How I Turned My 15 Minutes Into 15 Years

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes," -       Andy Warhol

 

I finally purchased a new computer which forced me to go through my old (I mean really old) files to see what I could purge. In doing so I came across an interview I did back in 2007 for a novelist who was writing a book about “celebrity.”

After my run as a contestant on The Apprentice season one, I went on to host 8 seasons of Kidspace on HGTV. At the time of this interview I was hosting NBC’s live daytime talk show, In The Loop with iVillage. 

For those of you who are wondering how I turned my 15 minutes of reality TV fame into a 15 year career, give this interview a read. I think my answers are telling. I believe it was my approach and handling of my post Apprentice celebrity status that kept me in this crazy business for the last 15 years.

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Q: What is celebrity (expand)?

ME: I think, for some people, celebrity is like being the most popular kid at school, but on a MUCH bigger scale. It’s that need to be liked, admired and recognized. Some people think “celebrity” can bring them all of that.

After The Apprentice, I guess I was a celebrity of sorts. At first I embraced the spotlight. I took advantage of the parties and the VIP treatment. I even stumbled through my fair share of red carpet photo ops. Through it all I remember feeling inauthentic. Simply put, I felt like a phony. What was I famous for? Was I proud of what I was famous for? No I wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not regret my Apprentice experience, nor am I disappointed in my performance, but at some point I understood that I needed to make more of the experience. I wasn’t satisfied with being just a TV personality. I guess celebrity in itself was not that important to me.

I take pride in working hard and being good at what I do. I was not good at being famous just for being famous. Pre Apprentice, I was a good senior marketing manager at Estee Lauder and now I am working hard to be a good television host on In the Loop with iVillage.

The other thing that was new and strange was my new celebrity social life. The Apprentice was the #1 show on TV. Our cast was invited to the hottest parties. I spent sooooo much time networking at parties, events and premiers and less quality time with my close friends and family. I missed long chats with my best girl friends. I missed date nights with my boyfriend (now husband). I missed long dinners with my family.

I feel for the child stars that have always been in the limelight and have a hard time building real friendships, the kind that can save your life. I realize now more than ever how important it is to keep quality friends, family and even respected colleagues close. These are the people who won’t be afraid to tell you the truth no matter how much it hurts. 

I also think celebrity can slow down your self-growth. When you’re in the spotlight you’re always “on” constantly presenting a version of yourself …one that entertains your audience/fans. It’s easy to lose sight of who you really are, what’s most important to you and who you want to become. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget about your long term happiness.

Q: Your achievement in business is remarkable, especially for someone your age at the time (GE and Estee Lauder) have you abandoned the corporate world for a career in front of the camera?

ME: I may have abandoned the corporate world, but I have not abandoned the business world. TV is a business. A very tricky business.  Eventually I hope to have enough of a name to launch a brand of my own. I have a few ideas.

Q: Fame/celebrity for you was almost unplanned, its not like you spent years pounding the pavement, bartending, going to acting school, etc (did you?) so you may not have been prepared for fame as it happened for you, what was that experience like and how has it shaped who you have become?

ME: I don’t consider myself famous. I’m just on TV. I love hosting because I get to learn something new every single day. It’s one of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever had and I have so much fun doing it. I welcome the celebrity aspect because I think I’ve learned to manage it and to use it to my advantage. 

Q: When you got the job as Tony Danza’s sidekick, did you feel prepared to take on such a big job?

ME: Absolutely not. I had no idea what I was in for and in retrospect that was a good thing. I’m glad that my role was small and manageable. I think what the executive producers liked about me was that I wasn’t over trained. I was spontaneous and somewhat natural on camera. Again I just had fun with it and didn’t say no to anything they asked me to do. Whether it was racing with Dale Earhardt Jr. or going to trapeze school with Tony Danza, I jumped right in! I hope I never lose that spontaneity.

Q: Why didn’t you continue for the second season of The Tony Danza Show?

ME: My role was never fully defined and proved not to fit in with the formula of the show, but in just one season I learned so much. I know that I will be a better co-host of “In the Loop with iVillage” because of that experience and my experience on Kidspace (HGTV).

Q:You are in a rare group, most people who come from reality shows don’t continue to work on television, its really just you and Elizabeth Hasselbeck (and maybe one or two others) so why do you think you’ve been a success when really hundreds of others never could cut it?

ME: I ask myself the same question everyday. I have no idea why I stood out. I guess producers saw someone who was not frightened by the camera and who could connect with viewers. My first request came from TLC. They wanted me to host a show called “Help Wanted”, but my contract did not allow it. Next I got an email from Buena Vista to audition for “The Tony Danza Show”. I didn’t have nor did I seek out an agent after “The Apprentice”. I was assigned an agent when I was presented with the “Help Wanted” contract. Things sort of fell into my lap thanks to “The Apprentice”. I like to think I landed the role of host of “Kidspace” (HGTV) and co-host of “In the Loop” because of my experience and because of my authenticity, but that’s just what helps me sleep at night. There are no concretes in this business.

Q: When you are on such a big show like The Apprentice and then Tony Danza, do you start to get addicted to the attention?

ME: Not really. It’s fun at this level, but I can imagine it getting very tiring and intrusive if ever I were to become really famous. Again, I was 27 when “The Apprentice” ended. I wasn’t a kid who needed attention. I liked my life, my friends and my family. The other positive side is being able to give back. I once had an organization donate $10,000 to a charity for a few publicity shots. That’s rewarding.

Q: There is a great deal of research published this year about the emerging adult population (the 18-25 set) saying that they are more narcissistic then ever before and their parents contribute to the idea they are “special” and should be famous despite the fact they may not have any talent, what are your thoughts on this need for fame at all costs?

ME: So frightening. Can someone tell those poor kids that finding their true talent and passion (I believe we all have one) is far more rewarding then faking someone else’s dream. I definitely think that both You Tube and reality television has encouraged people to seek out fame at any cost. Fame equals money and happiness in most people’s mind. Maybe someone needs to do a show about the aftermath; we can call it The 16th Minute.

I just read “Measure of a Man” by Sydney Poitier and I was blown away by his message. Everyone should read that book.

Q: In the business world there are pretty clear cut steps as to how to become successful, not so in the entertainment world, can you comment on that and the frustration about how much is out of your control, etc. Television is so subjective.

ME: In business you think in terms of bottom lines, return on investments (ROI), marketing, sales numbers and lots, and lots of statistics and charts. In television there is just your gut. I can’t really speak to this subject other than to say, I’m too new to the business.

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I still show up to every audition like I did my first….on time, over prepared, full of energy and now 10 times more confident. I still give 110% to every job whether it’s big or small.

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The Perfect Breakfast

I go through periods where I eat the same damn thing for breakfast/lunch everyday for two weeks straight. When that recipe is healthy, easy to make AND beautiful, I know it has to be shared!

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash

Organic eggs

Olive oil

Favorite hot sauce

Favorite egg garnish (cheese, scallions, salt, pepper…go nuts)!

Instructions for Roasting Acorn Squash (can be done a week in advance):

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Cut the top and bottom off the acorn squash. Cut the acorn squash in half and with a spoon remove all of the seeds and as much of the membrane as possible(that hairy looking stuff).
  3. Cut the Acorn squash into 1 inch rings
  4. Lightly toss the rings in olive oil
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  6. Place rings on parchment paper and sprinkle with salt and olive oil
  7. Roast for 35 minutes or until tender

When You Are Ready to Eat:

  1. Place a large non stick skillet (I prefer Circulon Symmetry) over medium heat. Coat evenly with just a enough olive oil to coat the pan.
  2. Gently press the acorn squash rings (2 at most) against the pan to create a seal with the olive oil.
  3. crack one egg into the center of the ring and cover the pan.
  4. Cook the egg to your preference (at least 3 minutes)
  5. Gently lift the squash and egg with a spatula.
  6. Garnish with your favorite egg toppings! I went with hot sauce. I am obsessed with this mayo free Terrapin Ridge Farms Spicy Chipotle Garnish 
  7. Enjoy!
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Escarole and Bean Soup to Warm the Soul

Escarole and beans. It’s the dish my mom always made me when I was sick. Best eaten with a big piece of crusty bread on a cold day! Sometimes the leafy greens are a bit intimidating for kids so I puree some of the soup and add orzo! Great way to sneak some greens into your kids diet.

Ingredients:

6 heads of escarole

5 cloves of chopped garlic

4 Tablespoons of olive oil

3 cans of cannellini beans (not drained)

3/4 cup of orzo

32 ounces of chicken or vegetable

Grated parmigiano or pecorino romano to finish

Ingredients For The Kid Friendly Version

All of the above + 1 cup of orzo cooked (according to the package instruction) and drained

ADULT VERSION

  1. Fill a large pot 1/2 way with water. Bring water to a boil
  2. Remove the white part of the escarole and discard.  Chop the leafy green part and rinse well.
  3. Add washed escarole to the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes or until all the greens have wilted. Drain the escarole and set aside. Note: I like boiling my escarole because I find that it removes the bitterness.
  4. In the same pot add the olive oil and chopped garlic.  Saute the garlic until it just starts to turn golden brown.
  5. Add back the escarole plus the chicken stock and beans.
  6. Let simmer for 10 minutes
  7. Ladle soup into a bowl, sprinkle grated parm and serve with a big piece of crusty bread!

CHILD FRIENDLY VERSION (with Orzo)

  1. Fill a large pot 1/2 way with water. Bring water to a boil
  2. Remove the white part of the escarole and discard.  Chop the leafy green part and rinse well.
  3. Add washed escarole to the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes or until all the greens have wilted. Drain the escarole and set aside. Note: I like boiling my escarole because I find that it removes the bitterness.
  4. In the same pot add the olive oil and chopped garlic.  Saute the garlic until it just starts to turn golden brown.
  5. Add back the escarole plus the chicken stock and only one can of beans. Let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes
  6. Using a emulsion blender blend the soup so that it still has some texture.
  7. Add the remain 2 cans of beans and the cooked orzo
  8. Ladle soup into a bowl, sprinkle grated parm and enjoy!
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What’s So Fabulous About Forty? I’ll Tell Ya

Goodbye thirties. You were memorable…tiring but memorable. A fairytale wedding was followed by nearly a decade of learning to function in a hazy state of sleep deprived consciousness.  I remember a steady blur of diaper changing, breast feeding, doctor visits, 2am, 3am and 4am wake-ups, first steps and stumbles, extreme highs and some pretty low lows.

There was no “ME-time” in my 30’s. There was no time for selfishness. There was barely any time for a shower. I proudly spent those years making sure I kept the two most important people in my life alive, healthy and happy. Today when I hear their laughter and feel their tiny hugs and kisses I know it was worth it. I did alright.

But now I’m forty, Bitch! (channeling my inner Britney #VMA2016 comeback) I feel sooooo close to not caring what anyone thinks of me (total #IDontGiveAShit mindset must happen in your 50’s). The diaper bag is a thing of the distant past. I have my boobs back (with a little help) and so far I’m not completely falling apart. Knees, check! Back, check check! Hips….well you can’t have it all.

I have more balance in my life than I’ve ever had before. All of my personas (mother, wife, TV host, daughter, sister, friend) are working together. No one is fighting for first place. Not sure how long this will last, but I plan on appreciating it while it’s here.

Now that ALL the birthday candles have been blown out I get to reflect on what I’ve learned.

In my forties I promise to:

-Remember to respect that spontaneous 20 something girl that still lives in me. When she tells me she feels like dancing on the bar…I say heck yeah!

-Remember that being a badass (or striving to be one) is not something to apologize for. In fact apologizing is over-rated.

-Remember that having a happy home is the only remedy for a shitty work day. Home is where this heart is.

-Remember that perfect is fiction and pretending to be perfect is boring.

-Remember that I have the things I need because I had the courage to go after the things I wanted. Keep moving forward. You’re never too old. It’s never too late.

-Remember that in order to be a good caretaker, the “taker carer” must take care of herself first. Say that one 3 times super-fast.

-Remember that respect is a requirement, not a “nice-to-have”. Kill them with kindness, but let them know you could kick their ass if you wanted to.

-Remember that over-planning is overrated. Bring on the travel. Bring on the adventures.

-Remember to surround yourself with strong, confident and fun women… they will lift you up when you start to slip. We all slip. Life is slippery.

-Remember to only take advice from those you truly trust and admire. When they pass judgment, take it seriously.

-Remember that no matter how busy life gets, make time for those you care about and be prepared to say f*&%$-off to those who don’t do the same for you. Better to think it rather than actually say it. Get rid of the excess…they weigh you down.

Then there were the few constants in my 20’s and 30’s that got me through the tough times….love big, embrace change, seek adventure. I’m going to keep rolling with these 🙂

Cheers to the next 10!

 

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Santa Approved Holiday Gift Guide

With Chanukah upon us and Christmas LESS THAN TWO WEEKS away I’ve been hard at work hunting down the hottest toys, coolest technology and best deals.  So here you have it… the best gifts for all of the “nice” children on your list!

1. If you are looking for the kid friendly tablet with all the bells and whistles, look no further!! You’ll fall in love with the new Samsung Galaxy Kids Tablet 7.0” – THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE Edition

As a parent I love that its packed with educational content and features designed for younger children from a brand you trust. This tablet has a soft, durable design that is easy for children to grab and grip when they are on-the-go….and they are always on the go!

It gets even better….when you purchase the NINJAGO Movie Edition tablet, you also get three months of Samsung Kids For Free… its an award-winning, all-in-one service featuring a library of expertly curated games, books, movies and TV for children.

The Samsung Galaxy Kids Tablet 7.0” – THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE Edition is available now on Samsung.com. Samsung is also offering a special $60 discount bringing the price down to $89.99.  So be sure to grab it while it’s hot!

2.  If you’re a parent like I am, I’m sure that you cherish story-time almost as much as your little ones do.  Well what if I told you I had something that could make story-time more magical! Well I do.

Moonlite takes story time to the next level for both parents and children. All you have to do is attach Moonlite to your phone, pop in a story reel and the colorful pictures from the book are projected onto the wall or ceiling of any room.

Download the free app compatible with most iOS and Android phones and you can read the story straight from your screen. In addition Moonlite has these cool sound effects that add a little bit of magic to the reading experience. It’s an experience you child won’t forget. It’s available exclusively at Target. Click here to grab it now!

3. This next gift is the perfect gift for the little one in your life that loves using his/her imagination and playing make believe.

Luvabella is the most realistic and lifelike baby doll ever – She’s got hundreds of expressions and interactive responses making her the first of her kind. For this reason she was a TOTY 2018 Toy of the Year finalist!

Luvabella’s reactions are unpredictable so that children can become immersed in the imaginative experience of nurturing a real baby. She loves to play peekaboo, recite her animals and she’ll be sure to tell you when she is hungry or tired. Just like a real infant, Luvabella even needs to be burped after here feedings.

Luvabella’s adorable life like expressions and reactions appeals to both girls and boys in a wide age range, from toddlers to young school-aged children.

4. Last but certainly not least let me introduce you to Chappet.

This yellow button is not your grandmother’s button. Chappet is a Bluetooth speaker controlled by a smart phone app. It helps bring stuffed animals ‘to life’ by allowing you to interact with your child through its speaker.

It has more than 1,000 prerecorded phrases and features 20 pre-recorded songs and stories. You can also add your own songs or stories to the playlist. Chappet also allows you to text chat and set up reminders for meals, bed or nap times. To attach Chappet simply sewn on the button or tightly attached with a string around a stuffed animals neck like a necklace. It’s exclusively on Amazon for $54.99.

Good luck with the rest of your holiday shopping. I hope my list was helpful!

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Beef Carpaccio

I recently hosted a 12 person sit down Italian dinner at my house. Menu planning involved me pulling from my childhood memories and my travels to the country that has my heart.

When I was 20 I was lucky enough to study and live in Firenze (Florence, Italy). My mother came to visit/spoil me for a week.  I remember, like it was yesterday, having lunch outside at a neighborhood restaurant. My mother ordered beef carpaccio. I was NOT keen on raw beef, but even then I was adventurous. It was amazing. Simple and delicious….the Italian way.

Here is my interpretation of what I remember tasting that day. It’s an incredibly easy app to prepare for your adventurous guest.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 10 ounces of thinly sliced beef tenderloin. Have your butcher freeze and thinly slice the tenderloin
  2. Lemon vinaigrette: whisk together 3 part extra virgin olive oil, 1 part fresh lemon juice and a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Mix 1/2 a cup of this vinaigrette.
  3. 2 cups of arugula
  4. 6 ounces of aged parmigiano reggiano. A salty Sicilian incanestrato cheese (sheeps milk) also works really well
  5. 2 Tablespoons of Maldon Sea Salt
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon of ground pepper

LET’S COOK!

  1. In a bowl toss the arugula with 1.5 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Set aside
  2. Lay the beef slices carefully on a platter. The slices should be close together, but only slightly overlapping.
  3. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the beef slices.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of Maldon Sea Salt over the beef slices
  5. Top with arugula
  6. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of Maldon Sea Salt over entire dish
  7. Shave about 2 to 3 ounces of parm over entire dish.
  8. Sprinkle the ground pepper over the entire dish
  9. Enjoy!
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What’s Up Doc? Honey Orange Roasted Carrots

Ingredients:

1 bundle of organic orange carrots, stems removed (thin carrots work best)

1 bundle of organic purple carrots, stems removed (thin carrots work best)

3 tbs spoons of local honey

Juice from 1 large orange

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 tsp of sea salt

6 ounces of goat cheese

1 tbs of chopped parsley

Let’s Cook!

  1. Preheat the oven to 400
  2. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper
  3. Cut each carrot in half
  4. In a small glass bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey , orange juice
  5. Toss the carrots in the mixture
  6. Evenly spread the carrots on the pan. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. (If the pan looks too crowded, use 2 pans)
  7. Reserve the remaining honey, orange mixture
  8. Roast carrots for 20 minutes. Remove and drizzle the remaining honey/orange mixture on the carrots.
  9. Return to oven for another 20 minutes or until the carrots begin to brown
  10. Remove carrots and allow to cool for 10 minutes
  11. Plate carrots.  Sprinkle remaining salt, goat cheese and garnish with parsley.
  12. ENJOY!
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Indian Summer Pasta. Feels Like Summer, Tastes Like Fall

Fall Pasta

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 3/4 lb of your favorite pasta. I used “I Sedanini”, but ziti, farfalle, orchiette all work!
  • 3  cups of butternut squash, peeled and cubed.
  • 3 links of sweet Italian sausage. Remove the case. Break into small pieces.
  • 2 cups of shaved asparagus
  • 3/4 cup grated pecorino romano
  • 1 tsp salt

LET’S COOK!

Serves 4

  1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Follow instructions on package on how to cook the pasta al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a nonstick large skillet. Add the sausage and cook until brown.
  3. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add 2 tbsp of butter to the same skillet and melt over medium heat.
  5. Add the butternut squash. Season with salt and cook until the squash is tender and slightly brown.
  6. When butternut squash is cooked, do NOT remove. Instead, add back the sausage and the shaved asparagus. Note : Add the asparagus last and try to distribute it evenly.
  7. Drain the pasta and reserve some of the pasta water.
  8. Add the pasta to the pan
  9. Add about 1/4 cup of pasta water to the pan and stir until all the ingredients come together
  10. Top with grated pecorino romano and serve immediately

Enjoy!

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Mezcal Tinto

mezcal

I’ve never really been in LOVE with mezcal. Tequila yes. Mezcal not convinced. Then during one of our most recent “moms night out” I was served the most delicious, well balance mezcal drink.  I immediately asked the bartender for his secrets. What is this? What do you call it ? How do I make it? He gave me very little. He quickly blurted out the 5 ingredients and left me just a few words of wisdom, “It’s all in the ratios. Good luck.” Kinda of a jerk move, but that didn’t dissuade me. The next night I successfully recreated what I now call Mezcal Tinto. Have a try…you won’t regret it.

  1. 2.5  oz of premium mezcal
  2. fresh squeezed juice from 1 small lime
  3. fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 a large lemon
  4. 1.5 tbsp of simple syrup
  5. approximately 1/4 cup of cabernet

Shake ingredients 1-4 in a shaker filled with ice. Shake fast for about 1 minute until the ice starts to melt and the drink becomes frothy. Place a large square ice cube into an old fashioned glass. Pour the contents of the shaker over the ice cube. Top the drink with cabernet. SALUTE!

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The Ultimate Fall Frittata

Fall frittata smaller

There is nothing more satisfying than a frittata filled to the brim with all of your favorite things! This hearty frittata has sweet Italian sausage, butternut squash, sweet potatoes,  asparagus and goat cheese. It’s a perfect fall meal that you can serve up for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A frittata is also a great way to sneak veggies into your kids diet. My son didn’t think twice about the fact that he was eating asparagus…one of his least favorite veggies.

Ingredients

  • 8 organic large eggs
  • 1/3 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1 cup of shaved asparagus (chopped will also work)
  • 1 cup of chopped sweet potato
  •  1 cup of chopped butternut squash
  • 2 links of sausage. Remove cases and break sausage into small pieces
  • 6 oz of crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp of butter

LET’S COOK!

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, grated parm and the light cream. Set aside for later.
  2. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a nonstick (preferably Circulon) 11 inch skillet.
  3. Add the sausage and sauteed until cooked.
  4. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside in a large bowl.
  5. Add 1 tbsp of butter to the same skillet and melt over medium heat.
  6. Add the sweet potato and cook until tender and slightly brown. Remove sweet potatoes from skillet and set aside in the same bowl the sausage is in.
  7. Add another tbsp of butter to the same skillet and melt over medium high heat.
  8. Add the butternut squash and cook until the squash is tender and slightly brown.
  9. When butternut squash is cooked, do NOT remove. Instead, add back the sausage and the sweet potatoes PLUS the shaved asparagus. Note : Add the asparagus last and try to distribute it evenly.
  10. Add the egg mixture to the pan, over the vegetables and sausange. Cook at medium high for 2 minutes and then lower to medium low. Cover and allow for the frittata to cook through.
  11. Once the frittata is full cooked sprinkle the goat cheese evenly on top. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to rest for 2 minutes.
  12. Gently slide the frittata from the skillet and serve immediately!
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