Tag Archives: NYC

We went! We saw! We ate! We were inspired! We passed out in food comas!

So, here’s the thing. I’ve been in the food industry for 17 years. Retail. Wholesale. Corporate. Private labeling. Specialty buying. You name it, I’ve probably had a hand in it directly or indirectly at one time or another. In fact, if you include all the years I worked in a grocery store deli, bakery, waited tables and managed an espresso bar (before there was a “coffee culture”), I’ve been in the industry for almost 25 years now.

Two weeks ago, was the opening day of my absolute favori
te trade show — the Summer Fancy Food Show. It would have been my 17th consecutive year attending, but I missed the 2011 show due to the event temporarily relocating to D.C. while the Javits Center was being remodeled as well as personal scheduling conflicts. I hauled my tuchus down to D.C. the following year, however!

This year was my 16th show. Sixteen years attending the Fancy Food Show and I was as excited on opening day (June 30) as I was back in ’97 when I first walked into the Javits for my very first show.

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The Summer Fancy Food Show is North America’s Largest Specialty Food & Beverage Event. Over 24,000 buyers from across the U.S. and around the world are prime to discover 180,000 products including confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more, from 2,400 exhibitors spanning 80+ countries. The trade only event (not open to the general public) is hosted by the Specialty Food Association.

The Specialty Food Association is the preeminent not-for-profit business trade association established in 1952 to foster trade, commerce and interest in the $86 billion specialty food industry. The Association is an international organization composed of more than 3,000 member companies including domestic and foreign manufacturers, importers, distributors, brokers, retailers, restaurateurs, caterers and other specialty food businesses.

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You probably think I would be tired of it all by now, but I still love it! I find new and exciting things every year. Quite honestly, anyone who is faced with over 350,000 sq. ft. of specialty food exhibitors and walks away with

The BEST team in NYC! (l-r: Dan, Kevin, Liz, Lin, Jerome & Suzanne)
The BEST team in NYC!
(l-r: Dan, Kevin, Liz, Lin, Jerome & Suzanne)

no new ideas and nothing to be excited about should hang up their hat. They don’t belong in the industry anymore.

Yes, there are people like this. To them, this show is drudgery and they dread walking the aisles and expect to not find anything new. They return to their shops and continue to fill their shelves with the same lines, the same products, week after week, year after year. And, sadly, their customers end up with the short end of the stick. Their customers never have the opportunity to see or taste all of the amazing things available. Someone else made that decision for them. The shop owners chose not to take a risk, to think outside of their proverbial box. They chose to remain safe and staid. But, we must all remember that with great risk comes the opportunity for greater reward.

This year I was doubly excited because I had the unique opportunity of having a virgin Fancy Food Show crew. My team members had never before heard of, let alone been part of such an experience. We six food lovers, covered the gamut from vegan, vegetarian, dairy sensitive, gluten sensitive, alcohol allergic, diabetic to “if-it’s-on-my-plate-i’ll-eat-it”! Just as the title to this blog entry states, we went, we saw, we ate, we were inspired and at the end of the day we returned to our homes and passed out…happily.

WE CAN’T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR!

Our team divided itself into Instagrammers and bloggers during and post-show. Here is a bit about our experience…

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Well I walked my first Fancy Food Show Marathon and after much anticipation must say I had a blast!

Weaving through the crowded aisles of serious foodies from all over the world was a breeze.  Chatting with whoever in our own group of 6 was nearby, I felt like a kid at summer camp.   And booth after booth of delicious samples…hard to put into words.  WOW!  Luckily for us our General (as we called Lin) prepared us with veteran tips on pacing ourselves.  Lobster pizza, East Indian cuisine, barbecue, dumplings, tacos, spreads, dips, chips, juices, coffees, and more varieties of cheeses, olives, cookies, and crackers than I could have imagined.

Our joke….. this must have been what a party at Caligula’s house was like.

– Suzanne

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Looking back at the  Summer Fancy Food Show over a week later, I still mostly picture the cheeses and olives. I guess it’s because they’re my dietary Achilles heels. Other foods, I can eat in moderation … or with some reasonable semblance of same. Offered a taco (there were some great samples), pastries (check) or cold desserts like ice cream or gelato (check again) I can form the words, “No thanks” after tasting a few samples. I can exert some self-control. Not so with the cheeses, or those olives—and honest to God, I’d never seen so many, and so many varieties, and in many cases varieties  I’d never known about of before, in one place.

 

It was one thing to hear about the billion miles and gazillion aisles of food at this event, another to be there and experience it for myself. I can only compare it to the World’s Fair or something like that. It’s kind of indescribable, which is one reason I waited awhile—way too long— to take a stab these few paragraphs. I don’t remember all the stuff I ate. I just remember eating stuff constantly for hours and hours. Delicious stuff, gourmet stuff, real fancy food.

 

So I’m keeping it short, sweet and simple, sticking to those central images: The trays of cheeses. The cases of multihued olives. And also the distributors and buyers from around the world haggling at the international booths, sizing each other up across tables, looking at each other eye-to-eye, exchanging business cards, taking notes and making calculations with pads and pencils along with, or instead of, laptops and tablets …

 

There was, I guess, an element of the Old World bazaar to this incredible event that added another layer of fascination for me as I roamed the place with Team Alecia Bakery NYC, snatching olives and cheese from anyplace within reach … and gobbling down a whole lot of other food too.

 

NEXT TIME, Lin … I repeat, NEXT TIME, I’ll try to remember  everything I ate so I can write about it here.

– Jerome

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(Photos by our Instagrammers: Liz, Kevin & Dan)

To the victor goes the spoils (aka some of the samples our crew snagged)…

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 Even our precious pugs got treats from the show when we returned home…

And a very special family of 7 children ranging in ages from 1 month to 11 years received a very generous gift from the ladies at the Happy Family booth!

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 WE’LL BE BACK NEXT YEAR!

SEE EVERYONE JUNE 29-JULY 1, 2014!

 

 

Coalition for the Homeless’ Carnival Night for Kids 2013!

One week ago as Lenny and I were out for our evening walk, a toddler no more than 18 months old ran towards us on the sidewalk with his parents closely following. The child, his cheeks puffed from his giant smile, had one end of a ribbon tied around his wrist attaching a large round mylar balloon to him like a bouncing tail as he toddled towards us as fast as his chubbly little legs seemed to allow. I couldn’t help but smile and think to myslf, “We should all experience life with such joyful abandonment!” However, for many, this is sadly not the case.

“The number of New Yorkers without homes has reached an all-time high. Tonight, more than 50,000 of our neighbors — including 21,000 children — will sleep in emergency shelters. The Coalition provides hot meals, crisis services, job training, permanent housing and special youth programs to 3,500 men, women and children each day while fighting for long-term solutions.”

Okay, okay! You’ve heard the numbers. You’re tired of being shown sad faces and despicable living conditions. Let me, instead, tell you about a magical night in Central Park where children and families were able to play until their cheeks hurt from smiling and bellies ached from laughter. A night that kids were free to be kids with one another — no matter what their socioeconomic status — and how that single evening helped set the stage for more smiles, more laughter and more happy memories.

According to Accuweather, “New York City has its seventh-wettest June on record.” Considering I’ve worn my wellies and dressed Lenny in his raincoat more times than not this month, I believe it. I would be a liar if I said I hadn’t been nervous tracking the weather forecast in the days preceding the Coalition for the Homeless’ Carnival Night for Kids. Mother Nature, however, sandwiched one perfect evening between two full of drenching rain. I’ve learned to be thankful for small miracles and this was definitely one.

My guests for the evening were New York Times bestselling author, Jerome Preisler, and his lovely wife (& Alecia Bakery NYC assistant), Suzanne. We were joined by the Director of First Step Job Training Program, my friend Liz Henderson, who introduced us to her co-workers and engaged us in thought-provoking discussions about our society while answering questions about the evening’s event and the Coalition.

Camp Homeward Bound  — The nation’s first summer sleep-away camp for homeless children. Located in beautiful Harriman State Park CHB provides hundres of boys and girls with a fun and safe summer.”

Bound for Success — Gives homeless students the educational support they need to succeed in school through afterschool and summer day camp programs.”

Little could have pulled me away from meeting such hard-working and dedicated people, but the gleeful squeals and children’s chatter that swirled around us captured my attention.

Cheering wildly as they took turns soaking the camp counselors in the dunk tank…

Skipping gleefully through random puddles with their faces brightly painted…

Giddily wearing balloon corsages…

Eating chicken fingers and cotton candy until their tummies were full…

Singing camp songs with a stage full of counselors…

Nothing I could say or write could fully express the joy that filled Victorian Gardens last night, but I believe these pictures captured some of the magic…

(*click on the thumbnail to view the photo in its entirety)

“Every summer since 1984, Camp Homeward Bound has given homeless youngsters the chance to escape crowded shelters and sweltering city streets to enjoy swimming, music, arts + crafts and learn cooking and computer skills. It’s a rare chance to forget the stress and insecurity of shelter life and just be a kid. Camp fosters self-esteem and confidence to build upon when summer ends. You can give a homeless boy or girl and opportunity to enjoy a summer he or she won’t forget by sponsoring a camper today!”

 

The Peanut Butter Cookie Project aka Celebrating Lin’s 41st Birthday!

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“That’s right. I’m the social do-gooder yer mama warned you about!”

A couple weeks ago, with my 41st birthday quickly approaching, I began considering how to mark the day I was born. Birthdays bring to mind memories of pool parties with neighborhood friends, the cacophony of Chuck E. Cheese’s, getting your driver’s license when you turned 16 (for those of us who grew up in Michigan), slamming shots on your 21st culminating in your swearing you’d never drink again (ummm…no mum, I didn’t do this), and the years following when celebrations became smaller and more intimate yet more meaningful.

I’m not much for being the center of attention and with such a high percentage of my social circle spread out across the country a traditional celebratory gathering wasn’t in the cards. I found myself reflecting on my 30th birthday. My husband had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away just weeks prior and my co-workers didn’t want me to be alone so they took me out to dinner after the shop closed that evening. While at dinner, calls and texts poured in from family and friends across the country. It had secretly been planned that everyone would participate in my birthday celebration remotely. It was a wonderful night and a birthday I will always remember for the love sent over the airwaves. So in that same vein, while speaking with my dear friend, Jerome, I came up with “The Peanut Butter Cookie Project” which would allow me to celebrate with friends and family no matter their location while helping an all-volunteer, non-profit, no-kill rescue organization that was near and dear to my heart — Curly Tail Pug Rescue.

WHO COULD PARTICIPATE? Anyone who was my personal Facebook friend. Yes, sometimes it’s beneficial to be friends with a baker who owns a company 🙂

WHAT WAS REQUIRED?

          * Donate a minimum of $20 to Curly Tail Pug Rescue. (Many of my friends donated more because, well, they’re awesome!)

          * When participants received their cookie, they took a digital picture of themselves, their family, etc., enjoying their treat in honor of my birthday and posted it on my Facebook page with the hashtag #ThePeanutButterCookieProject.

ABOUT THE COOKIE: The Alecia Bakery NYC Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie weighs in at a WHOPPING 7 oz. MINIMUM! This is the total weight of an ENTIRE box of Girl Scout Do-Si-Dos, which is the inspiration for this treat! This monster of a cookie consists of two nearly 5″ Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies sandwiched together with deliciously creamy Peanut Butter Buttercream. Of course, we couldn’t let it go there. We had to add something extra to gild the lily — a swirl of house made caramel! Salted Caramel adds a touch of sweetness while Habanero Caramel adds heat and sweet! And since these mammoth treats are too big for any of our pre-made bags, we hand cut cellophane and hand wrap each one.

Five steps to peanut butter sandwich cookie heaven…

 Smiling participants.

Happy tummies.

$710 donated to Curly Tail Pug Rescue! That’s right! $710 smack-a-roos, baby!

HAPPY 41ST BIRTHDAY TO ME!

 

* Would you like to raise money for an organization? Contact us for #ThePeanutButterCookieProject program details!

19th Annual Women Mean Business Luncheon benefiting Coalition for the Homeless’ First Step Job Training Program

Homeless.

We have all heard the word and many have discussed the plight of the homeless, but few of us have truly experienced what it is like to have no place to call home. No place for a moment of solace. No place for a shred of privacy. No place for safety. No place to shelter ourselves let alone our family. When tough times strike, most of us are fortunate enough to have family and friends upon which to lean.

In the fall of 2011, while this company was in its infancy, I lost what little financial security I had. I was shaken to my core and terrified of how I would survive. Luckily, I had an incredible support system who offered me everything I needed to keep my head above water and Lenny in kibble. They refused to let me falter and in return I promised that I would do everything possible to make this company successful. Two years and many ups and downs later, Lenny and I still have a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, clothing on our backs and the “little company that could” is steadily growing and making its mark not only in people’s tummies, but in their hearts as well. But what of those who are not as lucky as we?

I have been blessed with an amazing circle of family and friends who make the world a better place daily by reaching out to those less fortunate and offering them a helping hand. One of those people is my dear friend, Liz Henderson. Liz is one of the kindest, gentlest, most considerate people you will ever meet. She has an infectious laugh and her fiance, Kevin, and their pug, Lennon, make me smile daily knowing that they are out there making the world a better place. You see, Liz is the Director of the Coalition for the Homeless First Step Job Training Program.

“A record 10,000 families sleep each night in New York City’s emergency shelter system. Thousands more live doubled- or tripled-up with friends or relatives, unable to afford housing in one of the country’s tightest real estate markets. The overwhelming majority of these homeless families are headed by single mothers who want to provide their children with safe and stable homes. Many lack the career skills necessary to find and maintain living wage employment. Others suffer from low-self esteem and self-worth, usually caused by years of domestic abuse. That’s why the Coalition’s First Step Job Training Program is so vital. By empowering homeless women to reach self-sufficiency through hands on job training, internships, mentoring, job placement and social service support, First Step benefits every member of the family.

“First Step’s innovative 14-week curriculum includes over 75 hours of computer instruction, along with literacy workshops, communication and interpersonal skills development, and other hands-on activities that give students a thorough and practical understanding of the job market and workplace. First Step also places students in internships with major corporations or non-profit organizations, and offers mentoring by experienced professional women. We also provide a lifetime of post-graduate services, including job placement assistance, ongoing mentoring from staff and volunteers, support groups, additional training seminars, and numerous networking opportunities with alumni and business professionals.

“Each year First Step helps hundreds of women achieve a new found sense of self-esteem and direction. The program has proven to be highly effective. Last year, of those enrolled, approximately two-thirds graduated, successfully completing both the classroom and internship portions of the program, of which 75 percent secured full-time employment.

“Coalition for the Homeless is the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women, and children. We are dedicated to the principle that affordable housing, sufficient food, and the chance to work for a living wage are fundamental rights in a civilized society. Since our inception in 1981, the Coalition has worked through litigation, public education, and direct services to ensure that these goals are realized.

When Liz, in her quiet way, approached me about sponsoring this year’s Women Mean Business Luncheon it wasn’t a question of whether we would participate, but how. We couldn’t afford to buy a table (but one day we will) so, we went about making caramels to fill 350 organza pouches which would be included in the event gift bags. As I worked silently in the kitchen cutting and wrapping each confection one day, I reflected on the small community of homeless and near-homeless men who inhabit a corner of my block.

I often rely on Lenny to gauge the character of a person so when he immediately took to one of the men who sold newspapers at the subway entrance, I made a point to learn his name. Roy has never asked for money or food. He and his boys sit on milk crates most days chatting and watching the goings on of the public housing buildings across the way. On days when the sun is shining, Lenny stops and sits amongst the men letting them pet him while they tell me about the dogs they used to have. One man calls him “Sandy,” but I’ve never corrected him because it’s not important. What is important is that for a few minutes each day a lady and her dog stop by to chat. We don’t walk by and turn a blind eye. We don’t treat the men like pariahs. We smile and ask how they are doing. Simply, we treat them like humans — with dignity and respect — just as we wish to be treated.

It was my honor to be seated with Liz, Corporate Partnership Award recipients of Deutsch and Class 112 graduate Marlene Romero at this year’s luncheon. It was an amazing two hours in which I was inspired by the strength, perseverance  and words of hope, spoken by President & CEO of Coalition for the Homeless Mary Brosnahan, Class 111 graduate Shakira Kennedy, Class 106 graduate Jessie Garcia and Ms. Romero. Many tears were shed and 350+ attendees walked out of the Grand Ballroom at The Pierre on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, with a renewed energy for change.

As Deutsch stated in the event program, “The difference between wanting change and creating change starts with standing up. Here’s to empty seats.”

“A League of Our Own” wine & dessert tasting event benefiting Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter School

I was having a particularly challenging personal day, during a particularly challenging personal week, during a particularly challenging personal month, when I received just the ray of sunshine I needed to begin parting the clouds of my psyche.

Taking a couple hours to escape reality one Wednesday afternoon, I decided to stroll through Chelsea Market. I love everything about the space from its origins as a Nabisco factory to the live webcam catching glimpses of visitors as they pass the waterfall to the myriad of vendors who now call the space home. I can’t fathom how anyone can wander through the market without buying a little something along the way.

Anyway, on that afternoon as I perused the bacon fat slicked brussels sprouts in Dickson’s Farmstand Meats’ window, I received a telephone call. Harlem RBI was hosting their 5th  annual “A League of Our Own” event on the evening of Thursday, March 7, at Radio City Music Hall, and they were wondering if Alecia Bakery NYC would be interested in participating.

Two years after we opened our doors to East Harlem boys in 1991, a group of girls marched into Harlem RBI offices and demanded a league of their own. Since then, girls have enjoyed a place to play, learn and grow at Harlem RBI. Today, Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter School annually serve more than 600 girls and young women and will continue to support them as they become our leaders and change makers in the community and beyond.

 A League of Our Own is our fifth annual wine and chocolate tasting event set at the historic Radio City Music Hall. The elegant affair includes exquisite wines, chocolates and heavy hors d’oeuvres from premiere New York restaurants and dessert shops. A silent auction will support our programs in East Harlem. Join us as we celebrate the strength and perseverance of the girls and women at Harlem RBI and DREAM.

Interested? Very little could have pulled me away from ogling the gorgeous green orbs, but this proposition made my heart soar! After a bit more discussion, it was agreed that an assortment of our caramels would be most fitting for the event’s expected 300 guests. And with that simple decision, the smile returned to my face, all of the “garbage” that had been weighing on me began to fall away from my shoulders and I felt reenergized.

Its quite simple. Nothing makes me feel as good as when I’m helping others. And it was an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to help such an amazing organization.

                   

                                                     

The ol’ gal can still clean up pretty well!

I rarely have time to go out socially these days and even rarer still are the occasions that allow me to get “all dolled up,” as a dear friend commented recently. But, on the wet, blustery winter evening of the event, I walked into the glittering Grand Foyer of Radio City Music Hall feeling like a modern day Cinderella. Dessert stations presented attendees with such an array of chocolate desserts that even the most fanatical chocolate lover would have been dizzied by the amount of cacao on display. Wine glasses sparkled and clinked. And wooden trays of delectable savory morsels floated by on the arms of servers dressed in Harlem RBI tees.

It was an evening I will always remember, but perhaps not for the reasons you may think. You see, many years ago I was a public school teacher in two extremely challenging school districts (Flint, MI and Jersey City, NJ). I gravitated towards the students who were at most risk, who had the least hope, who needed the most encouragement. I found joy in being their personal cheerleader. So while all of the luxe accoutrements of the evening’s event were spectacular, it was the three women who spoke and the stories they told that captured my heart and made me a Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter School supporter for life.

A beautiful young lady spoke of her “a-ha” moment when she realized what it was like to be a part of a team at Harlem RBI. One of the four highest ranking female executives at Delta Airlines shared her most terrifying professional moment — when she had to explain why she was qualified to continue to do the job she had successfully earned and loved, but due to a torrent of bad luck had failed miserably. And the effervescent Principal of DREAM Charter School recounted one of her most challenging cases — an 8 year old boy who when asked by his mother in the presence of the Principal, “Why did you say you aren’t going to college?” answered plainly, “You didn’t.”

All of the stories shared that evening served to remind me that every obstacle can be overcome and every goal can be reached with perseverance and the help and support from others. Oh, one more thing, and my favorite quote from the evening, “There’s a special place in hell for women in business who don’t help one another.”

Click on the image for more pics from the event!

Lenny is NYC’s Top Dog of 2013!

“Thank you Lenny for all you do for our dog community. Wonderful pug group and great job on your fundraising!” – Ada Nieves, Co-chair of the New York Pet Fashion Show

We had No, let’s be honest. I had been looking forward to a rare fancy night out at the New York Pet Fashion Show since November 2012 when Lenny was asked to participate in the Vendor Runway portion of the event. When I learned that this year’s event beneficiary was one of our favorite NYC shelters, Animal Haven, I knew we had to do it! However, at the time there was a small hiccup. We were hoping to have our new shop open around that time and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to make it. And then fate took hold and our shop opening hit a few road bumps so on New Year’s Eve I messaged Ada to ask if Lenny’s spot was still available. To my delight, it was!

Lenny the Pug by Andy Bautista at Sacred Tattoo NYC

I chose a gorgeous vintage Betsey Johnson dress to wear. No, I didn’t buy it from a trendy vintage shop in the Village. I have just hung onto it long enough that it, along with much of my wardrobe, is now considered vintage. Hmmm…maybe I’m vintage now, too. But, I digress… Back to the dress! It was perfect! Its tiny spaghetti straps and low back would show off the gorgeous tattoo work by Jon Mesa across my back, shoulder and arm, while the asymmetrical hemline would allow me to proudly show off my latest, and okay let’s just agree its my greatest, tattoo of a smiling Lenny by Andy Bautista on my thigh. Have I mentioned how much I hate promoting myself, but LOVE promoting others?

Once I had chosen something appropriate to wear that wouldn’t embarrass Lenny while he mingled with his peers, it was his turn. He, of course, eschewed the evening’s theme (The Roaring 20’s)  as well as all social guidelines and decided he would go au natural. That’s right. The pug was going to attend the party NAKED! Oh the horror! LOL! While many folks know the pug has a fabulous winter wardrobe envied even by HUMANS, it has always been important to me to allow him to be a pug first and foremost. The event was being held on the top floor ballroom of the Pennsylvania Hotel — no need for protection from inclement weather indoors. So, run nekkid little pug! Run nekkid!

With our attire chosen, we had five weeks to relax while event organizers scrambled to pull everything together. If you’ve ever organized a public event in NYC, you know how many CASES of wine those organizers probably went through calming their nerves. I have…and can make an educated guess.

Anyway, on January 28 I received a message from Ada Nieves, Co-chair of the New York Pet Fashion Show:

“We would like to present a formal invitation to the New York Pet Fashion Show on Feb 8 at the Pennsylvania Hotel. Lenny has been nominated for an award. Please confirm attendance. Thank you!”

WHAT?!?! I wondered to myself, “What in the world has the little pug been doing when I’m not around? Obviously its been positive because he’s won an award!” I was so proud of my little pug.

With the news of a mysterious award, my excitement grew! And then after weeks of anticipation…

Really? What’s up with naming a winter storm?

Winter storm Nemo. Stupid blizzard.

I considered every possible option of transporting the little pug to the event. Car service. Too expensive and would take a miracle to get a car in the storm. Subway. MTA warned of suspended service and our home stop is above ground — surely it would be shut down. Walking. One hundred sixty-seven blocks south in dropping temperatures and blizzard conditions carrying a 17 lb pug. Absolutely not. There just didn’t seem to be a truly safe method of transportation for us. And so after months of looking forward to a night out, I made the heartbreaking decision that we would not attend. I would not wear my dress. Lenny would not frolic naked in a fancy ballroom. And most crushing, the little pug would not be able to accept his award — which I could only assume was for “Frito-iest Feet”.

That decision, however difficult, ranked low on my chart of difficult decisions throughout Lenny’s life thus far. He wasn’t having a limb amputated. He wasn’t being put under anesthesia. It wouldn’t bring on a seizure. He didn’t know or care that he was going to miss a party. Nor did he know or care that he was supposed to accept an award that evening. He knew that home was safe and warm and cared that his dinner would be in his bowl.

So we stayed home listening to the wind, watching the snow fall like magic and Lenny ate his dinner from his bowl. The little pug was happy…and so was I.

Morning after Nemo walk in show up to his chin.

This morning Lenny and I woke to a snow covered wonderland. Gorgeous, but definitely not suited for Lenny as the little pug slid down the steps of our front stoop and stood frozen waiting for me to pick him up and carry him to the sidewalk where a narrow path had been created by human footprints. I rarely carry my phone with me when walking Lenny, but this morning I took it along to take photos of our snowyneighborhood and I’m glad I did. A simple message arrived from Ada while we walked:

“Congrats NYC Top Dog of 2013!!!!!!

WHAT?!?!? It must be a mistake. The message must have been truncated and Ada meant to send me the list of last evening’s award winners. I messaged Ada back to inquire and then I started to cry. As the tears froze on my cheeks, I was overwhelmed by the possibility that Lenny had actually been named the NYC Top Dog of 2013. I have said it thousands of times and will say it thousands more during Lenny’s lifetime. The little pug is my northern star ever directing me to all that’s good and decent in the world. He reminds me daily of what is truly important.

When we returned home, and Lenny had his post-walk cookie, I messaged my dear friend, Gail, who had volunteered with Animal Haven at last night’s evening and graciously accepted Lenny’s award in our absence, to confirm. Her answer? Lenny had indeed received the award for NYC’s Top Dog 2013 (almost a unanimous vote, according to Ada a few minutes later)! Gail had his award and a goody bag in hand. I was beside myself. Stunned. Honored. Humbled. And crying again.

Thank you Ada, Gregg Oehler (President/CEO, New York Pet Fashion Show), Richard Cordero (Vice President, New York Pet Fashion Show), Dana Humphrey (PR & Marketing Consultant, New York Pet Fashion Show), Gail, Animal Haven staff & volunteers, everyone on the committee who voted for Lenny, and last but absolutely not least, the amazing NYC animal community!

I’ve never sought out accolades or expected recognition for anything Lenny and I have done. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be a part of the incredible animal community here in NYC. I will proudly display Lenny’s award at our new shop when it opens this Spring as a daily reminder to myself, our staff and everyone who stops in, that we all have the power to do good every day. We simply must choose to do it.