Goodbye, Urban Girl Squad

Urban Girl Squad Staff

Ladies,

I’ve got some big news. Are you sitting down?

Our final Urban Girl Squad event will be on Wednesday, February 26th.

Let me back up for just a second. It’s been an amazing six years at Urban Girl Squad. We are now 18,500 women strong and meet up 150 times a year. We’ve raised a glass (thousands, more aptly), cooked up a storm, broken tons of sweats, volunteered to improve our city, and even helped each other meet some Mr. Rights. Your enthusiasm, passion and desire to dive into new things have been true inspirations to me. I’m so grateful for the ways that each of you has invested yourself in this community.

I struggled with the decision to close Urban Girl Squad. For six years we have grown not only as a group but also as individuals. Many of our staff are embarking on new personal and professional paths — as many of you know, I have baby #2 due in just a few weeks! Before all of us move on to new projects, I want to offer you a sincere thanks for being a part of this journey. But there’s a big silver lining here.

Even though Urban Girl Squad is shutting its doors, we ALL have an amazing new home with Levo League, an organization dedicated to elevating the careers of young women through community building, events and incredible online resources. Like all of you, Levo women are active, intelligent, and inspiring, and they come to Levo League for innovative ways to expand their skill sets, smash through the glass ceiling, and accelerate their careers.

I’ve spent plenty of time with the Levo League crew, and I am impressed by this groundbreaking organization and the young professionals there who, together, are taking the city by storm. I am so excited to be a new member of Levo League and hope you will be, too. You’ll be seeing me and other Squad insiders at their upcoming events. Check out their website for more on what’s in store.

I want to see you all on February 26th for one last hurrah for Urban Girl Squad and a big HELLO to Levo League. It’s going to be a night to remember, filled with laughter, memories, big reunion hugs, and plenty of champagne. Tickets are on sale now, so click here and snag yours before they’re gone . Bring your favorite Squad stories and get ready to pop a cork or two. I can’t wait!

We have a lot to celebrate.

Best,
Amanda

P.S. Have something to say? Of course you do! Email me directly at amanda [at] urbangirlsquad [dot] com and go to this post on our Facebook page to tell us what you think. Be sure to share a favorite Urban Girl Squad memory while you’re there.

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I fell in love with cowboy boots in Texas

cowboy_hatI went to Texas for the first time to celebrate New Year’s 2008. I grew up in northern NJ and moved to NYC for college, and have been living here in NYC ever since. So it’s safe to say that I didn’t know what to expect of Texas. It’s shameful, but yes, I had some images of cowboy hats, Republicans, and Wile E Coyote running through the desert. (Let’s note that I was going to Austin, the most liberal city in the state, not some tiny town.)

Once I arrived in the Austin airport, aside from some dudes in cowboy hats, some southern accents, and a few non-ironic American flag button down shirts, it was all pretty similar to other cities I’ve visited.

(One notable exception: my friend took me straight from the airport to a barn / bar that featured a game called Chicken Sh*t Bingo. That is much like it sounds. There was an actual chicken in a cage crapping on a bingo board. Also, the beers were cheap.)

Boots!

Cowboy boots in Austin, Texas

We went to a part of town where there are a lot of vintage stores and antiques, and the famous cowboy-gear shop, Allen’s Boots. And that’s when I saw them: walls and walls full of gorgeous, stunning, hand-decorated cowboy boots. At first I just looked and admired the artistry on them. And then, I thought, why not just try them on?

I fell in love with the boots like I’ve never fallen for an item of clothing before. So, I bought them and went home. Right? … No. Do you know how much cowboy boots cost? The cheapest boots in the store were $400. I spent hours in the store mulling this over. Hours! I looked at them from every angle and walked laps and laps around the store assessing their worthiness of my meager paycheck. I decided that this was a momentary lust affair that would pass when I left the store. So I did. Without the boots.

It’s amazing to me that I actually flew home without the boots. Back in NYC, I was still dreaming about them. The artistry! The look! The feel! Surely that kind of joy is worth splurging on? Another few weeks later, I caved and I called Allen’s Boots.  They shipped the boots to me that day.
cowgirl1cowgirl2

It was worth it.

Feelin’ the love for Texas?? Come dance and drink with Urban Girl Squad, Texas-style, at our next cocktail party on Thursday, Nov 21: Taste of Texas: Cocktail Party & Line Dancing Lesson

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Restaurant-Quality Mac & Cheese, Made by You! (or me, in this case)

We’re teaming up with GE Monogram this week to host an exciting online Mac & Cheese cooking competition: cook your dish, then post a photo of you and your masterpiece to our Facebook Page along with how you used the recipe. One cook will win a private cooking lesson and dinner for up to four people with Chef Tageré Southwell, executive chef at the gorgeous GE Monogram Design Center!

I’m a mac-and-cheese-from-the-box kind of girl. I’ll melt any cheese on any pasta and call it mac and cheese. To me, cheese + pasta = a winning combination, no matter how you do it. So I was curious to see if making mac and cheese the “fancy” way via GE Monogram’s chef blog would really make a difference.

The answer: hell, yes, it does.

I’ve never been so impressed with mac and cheese in my life. This recipe takes a dish that normally tastes pretty good to something you moan about with each bite. It is gourmet, and it’s pretty easy to make.

(Let’s just skip over any dieting or health implications of making this decadent mac and cheese. Ahem.)

I cooked this while I was vacationing with the family at a country house this weekend. It’s important to me to emphasize that I don’t have floral wallpaper. Let’s get cooking!

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Step 1: Get your ingredients. I don’t eat bacon, so I used butter instead. I winged the amounts to what “felt” right, partly because I didn’t have measuring tools in this kitchen, and partly because I’m impatient. Also, yeah, there’s whole milk AND heavy cream in there, and that’s before you add cheese. Remember what I said about ignoring the dieting implications?

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Step 2: Sautee some onions and celery. Throw in 2 bay leaves if you want to be fancy. (I can’t say I tasted them in the end, but why not?)

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Step 3: Add in whole milk and cream, 1 part milk to 3 parts cream. (Pretend I was using this same pot all along– I had to transfer the celery / onion to this pot after realizing I shouldn’t have used a sautee pan.) I didn’t measure the milk and cream here, and I don’t think you need to be all that precise. Add in some salt and pepper.

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Step 4: Cook your pasta. Dump it in the milk / cream sauce.

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Step 5: Add in cheddar cheese. A lot of it.

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Step 6: Stir, enjoy, and dare yourself NOT to eat the entire pot. Then eat the entire pot.

Thanks to GE Monogram for sponsoring this contest! You still have time to enter and win a gourmet meal for 4 at the GE Monogram design kitchen– cook up any mac and cheese, then post a photo of you and your dish on our Facebook page.

Get cooking!

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GIVEAWAY: Win a Private Cooking Lesson with Dinner & Wine!

mac&cheese3So you think you can cook?  Prove it!

Our last contest was so popular, we’re doing it again … We’re teaming up with GE Monogram – luxury appliances for real life – to host an exciting online cooking competition. Whip up your own version of GE Monogram’s delectable Mac & Cheese. And, if you don’t want to use bacon fat (or another ingredient in the recipe), feel free to substitute. Totally legit!

Then, post a photo of you and your best Mac & Cheese on our Facebook Page along with how you used the recipe – like, did you serve it to friends along with a main dish? Or did you hoard it all for yourself? Include any stories of your cooking experience and tips you have for making it again in the future.

The winner will be judged by the photo of you and the food (you *must* be in the photo to win) as well as your use of the recipe.

What’s in it for you? One lucky Urban Girl Squad chef will win a private cooking lesson and dinner for up to four people with Chef Tageré Southwell, executive chef at the gorgeous GE Monogram Design Center!

Enter here by October 15th!

A huge thanks to GE Monogram, our contest sponsor!

For additional information on GE Monogram, visit www.monogram.com
For additional information on the GE Monogram Design Center, visit www.monogram.com/mdc

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GIVEAWAY: Win 3 Months of Therapy from Pretty Padded Room

Pretty Padded RoomYou talk to your friends. You talk to your co-workers. You talk to your family (if you’re lucky and they actually listen).

But sometimes, you just need to talk to someone else. Someone who will listen and let you say anything you need to say.

Urban Girl Squad is thrilled to help out through our partnership with Pretty Padded Room, a place to connect with trained therapists online – anytime, anywhere.

Details: Three winners will each receive 3 months of therapy on Pretty Padded Room’s Basic Plan, 3 half-hour live video sessions with a therapist or 3 digital diary entries per month. With the Digital Diary, you don’t need an appointment. Just write your thoughts anytime, and a therapist will respond within 24-48 hours. Click here to enter the giveaway.

Why we love Pretty Padded Room:

A huge thank you to Pretty Padded Room for being that safe space to say anything. Click here to enter the giveaway by Friday, September 20th at 11:59PM. Winners will be announced Wednesday, September 25th.

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Vote for Urban Girl Squad!

Share the love…

Nominate us for Forbes’ fourth annual 100 Best Websites For Women 2013! It’s super easy– all you have to do is comment here and explain how you use Urban Girl Squad in your life and why we deserve to make the list. The deadline is August 16th. Vote now >>

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Exclusive Discount to Circuit of Change!

Miss out on our Total Body Bootcamp & Nutrition Workshop with Circuit of Change? Don’t worry! Circuit of Change is offering Urban Girl Squad an exclusive discount: 20% off on an unlimited monthly membership and 10 pack of classes purchased before July 31st.

Note: Email proof of purchasing a ticket to an Urban Girl Squad event within the past six months is required when using this discount at Circuit of Change.

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Meet the Squad: Wendy Lambour

NEIGHBORHOOD:
I live in Hoboken, N.J. and I’ve been in and around the area for three years.

YOUR 9 TO 5?
Right now, I don’t have a set schedule. I apprentice for a movie make-up artist and I am a recent Mary Kay representative in addition to event planning and project managing music events. For me, this is the year of the “do whatever makes you happy” mentality. I believe it will lead me down the path my heart truly desires.

FAVORITE SPOTS IN THE CITY?
In Hoboken, my main coffee spot is Bwe Kafe, otherwise in Manhattan you can find me at the Mercury Lounge or at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn. I also love consignment shopping at Beacon’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange, and the Brooklyn Flea Market.

FAVE UGS EVENT?
I attended my first event this year and it was the cocktail networking party at The Bubble Lounge. What I loved most about UGS was empowering women meeting other empowering women. That’s fantastic!

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GIVEAWAY: Buy One, Get One FREE Cycling Class!

Miss out on our May fitness events? Don’t sweat it! We’re offering a free ticket to our Total Body Indoor Cycling Class on June 8th for a friend. Buy your ticket by Wednesday 6/5 at 10PM and you’ll get one free!

To redeem, buy your ticket on our site here, then email Tovi at admin @ urbangirlsquad.com with your friend’s name and email address. If you already bought a ticket, email Tovi with the name and email of a friend you would like to bring for free. No credits or refunds will be issued.

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Women and Migraines

Did you know that a migraine is not just a bad headache? It ranks in the top 5 of the world’s most disabling illnesses for women. But we still know very little about what causes migraines and how to treat it effectively.

If you suffer from migraines, or know someone who does, we encourage you to check out the Migraine Research Foundation (MRF), an organization that raises money to fund migraine research grants and supports sufferers by providing information and resources. If you want to learn more about migraines, check out their website here. And feel free to call on them for help in any way — they are a terrific resource!

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