Should we host our guns night this year? Weigh in.

I must admit that I had mixed feelings about hosting our bi-annual Rifle Shooting Lesson and Shooting Range Practice this month.

Urban Girl Squad’s mission is to connect women in NYC to each other and to awesome experiences and brands. To attend our events, you don’t have to identify as a “beauty” girl or a “fitness” girl — you can do it all and still be a part of our community. You can be single, married, any race or religion and still knock back a drink with other fabulous women.

We’ve stayed away from politics because of its divisive nature. Our goal is to support and connect women, not draw lines between us. But can you really host a guns night without addressing the current political climate around guns?

After a lot of back and forth, we decided to host these events, and we wanted to tell you why: we’ve found that these events make our attendees feel proud, strong, empowered, and excited (see the women at a few past events here and here).

There is a significant difference between the rifles at this event and the handguns out in the world: the guns at this event are tethered to a stand, shot indoors at a paper target, and handled under the careful supervision of the tough (but nice!) guys of the West Side Pistol Range.

These events are about taking away fear and pushing boundaries. And they give us a thrill.

I hope you’ll join us on May 21 and 22 for these special events. Be sure to sign up by May 15, the registration deadline.

Do you agree or disagree with our decision to host? I want to hear what you think! Join the discussion on our Facebook Page.

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Meet the Squad: Nikki Thomas

NEIGHBORHOOD:
I’ve lived in New York for nearly 8 years, and I currently live in the West Village. I feel very fortunate to live in one of my dream neighborhoods!

YOUR 9-5?
I’m an Associate Broker with the Corcoran Group. Previously, I was a corporate bankruptcy attorney but I made the switch to real estate two years ago, and I absolutely love it – it’s such an honor to help people find something of great personal significance to them – their home.

FAVORITE SPOTS IN THE CITY?
I am prone to stuffing myself silly at Hill Country Barbecue in Chelsea (which is why my visits are limited). Petite Abeille is always a solid bet for mussels and fries, and Bareburger is the “go to” spot for date nights with my fiancé.

IF WE CAUGHT YOU MID-SPLURGE YOU’D BE…
I love going to the spa whenever possible. I would probably be enjoying a massage at Great Jones Spa followed by some time in their amazing water lounge, which features an indoor waterfall.

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Mother’s Day and Hidden Baby

I didn’t have to look far to find a gorgeous mom and baby to start talking about one of the most important days of the year – Mother’s Day!

My sister and I recently spent a lovely morning with our friend Amanda, (a.k.a. the founder of Urban Girl Squad), and her sweet Ella, (a.k.a. the Light of Amanda’s Life). What we discovered during our visit is that the mysterious bond between mothers and babies is alive and well in NYC. These two have that special kind of relationship – the kind that’s all about love and trust and understanding. And having fun!

Need a meaningful gift for a new mom’s first Mother’s Day? Fill a Hidden Baby bag with a few diaper packs and toys. Want to show a mom, (a friend, coworker, sister or your own mum), how much you care? Pack a Hidden Baby bag with craft supplies, her favorite candies, or a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine. If you need a gift sent out of town we will send your Hidden Baby bag for you – we’ll even enclose a special note! (Once you place your order, just send us an email at contact@hiddenbaby.com with what you would like the note to say).

Share the love with all the special moms in your life this year, and help babies-in-need while you’re at it. As always, a portion of every sale is donated to our nonprofit partners helping impoverished little ones.

And thank you Amanda, for sharing some of that amazing baby love with us!

All Urban Girl Squad members will receive 25% off a Hidden Baby bag leading up to Mother’s Day. Use promo code: URBANGIRL

Kelsey

 Amanda and her cutie, Miss Ella
Two Natural born models
To learn more about Hidden Baby and how you can help babies-in-need, click here
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Amanda’s Picks for April

It’s been a busy month for us at Urban Girl Squad: we’ve cooked, done our taxes, and gotten our friends hot dates. What’s next? Here are three events we’re psyched for this April:

1) Makeovers with Benefit on Tues 4/16. My good friends know that I’m secretly obsessed with eyebrow maintenance…and at this event, you’ll not only get your eyebrows and makeup done, but you’ll also learn techniques on how to DIY.

2) Champagne Networking Cocktail Party on Wed 4/24. Do you need an excuse to drink bubbly? Here’s the perfect one: grow your personal and professional network in one night at this event, free glass of champagne included.

3) Bedroom Confidential at Babeland on Sun 4/21. Feeling sexy for Spring? This event will excite you– we promise!

Did you know that you have until Monday to enter our big cooking contest with GE Monogram? All you have to do is cook our Sage Pesto recipe and post a photo of you and your dish to our Facebook page. Two winners will receive a private cooking lesson and dinner for four in the gorgeous GE Monogram showroom.

Check out my first food blogging experience here (bonus photo of me and my baby girl included).

See you in April!
Amanda

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Cooking Pesto: A Delicious Meal in Minutes

I’m so excited by our contest with GE Monogram to win a private cooking lesson and dinner in their showroom that even though I can’t win it myself (organizer of the contest is always disqualified!) I wanted to cook up the delicious sage pesto recipe anyway.

Pesto is really simple to make and looks and tastes delicious!  Here’s the recipe (with my notes):

1 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves, blanched then shocked, drained well ** beginners: boil the leaves for a minute, dump them into ice water, then drain
1/2 cup Marcona Almonds ** I used regular old almonds
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup garlic ** start with about half, then add more to taste
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1/2 lemon & zest

Here we go!  First, the sage leaves:

Sage leaves for pesto

Blanching and shocking are fancy terms for boiling for a minute and then plunging them into ice water. Buy more sage than you think you need (2 to 3 of the pre-made packages) because the leaves shrink when boiled.

Now, the lemon:

Lemon zest for pesto

And finally, the garlic:

Chopped garlic

I’m a big fan of shortcuts, so buy pre-chopped garlic if you hate doing it yourself. My biggest advice with this recipe though is to cut the garlic! Add more only after you’ve tasted it.

Drop it all in a blender:

Pesto in the Blender

 

And then hit go!

Pesto -- all done!

 

Voila! Pesto is really easy.

Here’s my helper:

The chefs in the kitchen

 

And, as per our contest rules, here I am with the final product:

Amanda cooks pesto

 

Now, get cooking! You have until Monday April 15 to cook this simple dish and post it to our Facebook page. TWO lucky chefs will have a private dinner and cooking lesson with an executive chef!

Pesto with pasta

Special thanks to my taster and photographer, Jake!

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

You think you have skills in the kitchen? Prove it!

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 Sage Pesto Recipe to accompany a dish of your choice. Then, post a photo of you and your dish on our Facebook Page along with what dish you made to accompany the recipe. Include any stories of your cooking experience and tips you have for the future!

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

What’s in it for you? Two lucky Urban Girl Squad chefs 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!

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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Friend-of-a-Friend Fairytale: Why You Shouldn’t Miss this Week’s Party

Friend-of-a-Friend Party goers Lisa and Michael, now a couple.If you—or your bestie guy pal—are on the fence about whether or not to attend Urban Girl Squad’s Famous Friend-of-a-Friend Singles Party on Thursday, March 21 at Pranna, then the fairy tale of Squad Member Lisa and her main squeeze Michael—who’ve been going strong since June 2012—should convince you to come on out.

Last summer Lisa was living in Connecticut when a group of friends invited her to attend the Friend-of-Friend party. It was a very hot day, and Lisa thought that maybe she should just head home but her friends—who were short one girl and needed her to get in—ultimately prevailed.

On Michael’s side, he was actually a last-minute sub when the original guy his gal pal had invited had to renege.

When all the guests arrived that evening, they were given a piece of paper with a name on it and were told to find their match. Lisa had “Fiona” and figured out that she was supposed to seek “Shrek.”

About an hour into the party, Lisa was still working on that ice breaker game. A group of three guys had approached her—none of them her Shrek—and they were having a great conversation when she noticed that a guy who had been looking at her while passing by walked in reverse and interrupted their conversation. “Excuse me,” he said, “but are you looking for Shrek?” The guy said that he was Shrek, but Lisa wasn’t so sure—she thought he was maybe just looking for a way into the chat. “Let me see your paper,” she said.

Michael thought for a minute about where he had stashed it. He realized it was in his wallet and had Lisa hold his empty glass while he hunted. Sure enough, “Shrek” was emblazoned on that piece of paper.

Following the party “Fiona” and “Shrek” were hungry, so they went to get pizza, and Michael revealed that he wanted to see Lisa again. She explained that she was going to Florida on business but would be open to a date when she returned. She gave him her business card, and he called the next day. Rather than being scared by his forwardness, Lisa was impressed that he had followed up by phone. She hadn’t been in the New York City area for long, but she had heard lots of stories of flaky guys who would text girls to ask if they wanted to hang out. Lisa and Michael did go out when she returned from Florida, and they’ve been happily dating ever since.

Now that Lisa isn’t interested in attending Urban Girl Squad’s Friend-of-a-Friend parties, she actively encourages her friends to attend. In addition to Michael, Lisa met a lot of other cool and nice people that night—she found the guys to be particularly gentlemanly. As so many Squad members have noted in our five years running, Urban Girl Squad events—whether ladies-only or co-ed—are a great place to meet good people in the city—something that can be particularly difficult when you’re new here.

Lisa’s advice to party attendees: Put yourself out there. Be open to mingling and talking to everybody. Use the ice breaker activity to start a conversation. These guys are vetted by your peers, which should make you more comfortable. And if you happen to have somewhat stringent criteria for what you want in a future boyfriend, think about loosening it up a bit—you never know who you’re going to meet—he just may surprise you if you let him!

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Inspiring Story from One of Our Members

We want to thank Gina for sharing this amazing story about Urban Girl Squad with us!

On Sunday October 14, 2012 I ran my first half marathon! Having never been a runner to crossing that finish line was one of my greatest accomplishments ever. I truly could not have done it without Athleta and Urban Girl Squad. The first time I attended the Altheta/UGS running group I was very intimidated by all the women who were already runners. Alice from Urban Girl Squad stayed with me the whole time while talking to me and offering me so much support. When I came back again I was a bit discouraged because Alice was not there. This time my encouragement came from another unsuspecting source, none other than the founder and CEO of Urban Girl Squad, Amanda. Those two experiences were the springboard that had me coming back again and again. Thank you both Athleta and Urban Girl Squad for allowing me to discover the inner athlete in me.

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GIVEAWAY: Win a Deluxe Makeover & Dinner for Two!

We’re in the mood to give. We’re partnering with HowAboutWe to hook one Urban Girl Squad member up with a luxury makeover including:

  • Facial at the Caudalie Spa in the Plaza Hotel
  • Blowout by Drybar and full makeup application
  • Two designer gift bags with spa and beauty accessories
  • Dinner for two at your favorite NYC restaurant ($250 value)

One thing we know for certain: you’ll make a bold statement wherever you dine. Enter to win here by March 15.

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GIVEAWAY: Win a Free Ride Home from our March 6th Networking Cocktail Party

You’ve had a fabulous night at a club, restaurant, or show.  Your feet are achy and the last thing you want to do is wait 20 minutes on the street for a taxi to finally drive by.  We’ve got the solution for you: GoGreenRide!

We’re giving away two free rides home (to any of the five boroughs!) from our Networking Cocktail Party on Wednesday, March 6th.  Each winner will also receive a free ticket to the Cocktail Party!

Two Prize Winners: One ticket to the Urban Girl Squad Networking Cocktail Party and one free ride home from the party in a GoGreenRide vehicle.

Enter on the Urban Girl Squad Facebook Page.  You must like GoGreenRide’s Facebook Page to enter.

GoGreenRide is a new, green and tech savvy car service in NYC that offers the highest level of customer service and reliability at the price of a yellow cab.  Offering multiple efficient booking platforms such as a mobile app and booking website and complimentary in-ride amenities such as an iPad, phone chargers, bottle water and Wifi, GoGreenRide puts a prime focus on the user experience.  Check them out here!

Giveaway ends Tuesday, March 5th at 9:00pm.

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