All New Family Favs!

September 3, 2016

It’s been a long, long time Family Favs followers! (2 years to be exact.) I’ve decided to revive Family Favs, but over on Instagram. Same idea, only with more pics and less text. And really, isn’t that what it has all come to??!! I’ll be bringing you all the stuff I like, think is worth the $, actually works, makes your life a little better and/or just a little more fun. As always, there’s no pay for play. I do it for the love, literally.

So what are you waiting for? Follow me over on Instagram at familyfavs. See you there!!

Believe the Hype

April 1, 2014

color-wow-root-cover-upWell, the sun was out for a little bit today, teasing us. One day spring will really have sprang, and when that happens, your hair will look fantastic with what I have discovered: Color Wow Root Cover-Up.

If, like me, you can’t get to the salon often enough and your roots start to show and then keep on showing, this is the stuff for you. My hair grows pretty quickly, and I have dark brown hair, so any grays feel like they stick way out. (Yes, I realize it is probably most pronounced to me, looking in the mirror under harsh lighting in the bathroom at work, but…) I just can’t get commit to getting to my hair guy any sooner. Not to mention the expense.

So I had seen different products over the last few years, specifically for root touch up. Long-time readers of this blog will know that I am a tough critic, and if something doesn’t work as promised, I am all over them. There was a Clairol one that I bought and then was afraid to use. It somehow looked…sketchy. (Seriously, this may still be in my closet.) Then I was not lured into buying anything until I went to the Rita Hazan salon for a mani-pedi and decided to try her spray-on root touch up. She does Beyonce’s hair, so I decided to trust her. It did get me out of a jam — we were getting a family portrait taken and needed a touch up, so I sprayed a little on some grays up front and it covered it for the photo. The problem I have with it is the spray colors your scalp a bit too, so it just feels fake to me. Not to mention that it you happen to rub your head, some comes off. Not the greatest.

Then I saw this Color Wow Root Cover-Up on TV — one of the morning shows where they were demonstrating it. And I read about it in some magazine. And then Space NK, who really edits their collection of beauty products down, started selling it. I asked the woman in there if it really worked and she said, “Yes, absolutely.” So I bit!

Lo and behold, this stuff actually works, with minimal effort. My only beef is that it only works on completely dry hair. But essentially when your hair is dry, you take it out (it’s like a compact), and use the brush to brush the color on any gray roots. It’s like blush for your hair. And then, within minutes, your gray is gone. Fur reals. It looks natural and it stays in until you wash your hair, at which time it all comes out and you’re back where you started.

It comes in a bunch of different colors to match your shade. Sephora, Ulta and Space NK (who also has stores in Bloomingdale’s) all carry it. It sometimes sells out but check another store if that happens. It’s about $35 and it lasts awhile.

Etc.

Even though the temps are still chilly, it is nice having it lighter in the evenings. Makes me feel like I still have some time to live a little even when I get home from work on the later side. Baseball season starts this weekend for my son, and of course the MLB season just kicked off, so I guess spring is actually, finally here. Let’s hope Mother Nature agrees. Hope all is well with you!

Embrace the New!

March 9, 2014

Delicious pici!

Delicious pici!

Blink and another freezing cold month goes by! But I’m here now and ready to pass on some new, new, new — because you need something to keep it interesting as the last days of winter squeeze every last bit of our ability to cope out of us. Make it stop! A girl can only wear her parka so many days…

Kefir! It’s my obsession. A nutritionist told me that so many health issues are tied to the bacteria found in the gut, and that she recommended trying to incorporate some kefir, packed with probiotics, into your diet. It’s a good alternative to yogurt. I like to mix a cup of plain, nonfat kefir smoothie with a banana and 1 tablespoon of Quik chocolate powder with some ice in the blender to make a delicious breakfast drink. I also keep some cups of strawberry and coffee kefir in my mini-fridge at work, for an afternoon snack. I like that it doesn’t have anything artificial vs. those light yogurts that are packed with artificial sweeteners.

Pici! We were just in Tuscany, and my son fell in love with this pasta, which is essentially thicker spaghetti. They use a slow-drying method, which somehow leaves the pasta more flavorful than that brittle stuff I typically buy in the supermarket. I wasn’t sure if I could find it here but I did in the Italian store at Chelsea Market, toward the back. You cook it longer — 22 minutes — and it comes out al dente and tasty. It’s great with any type of sauce. (Eataly also seems to carry this.)

Truffle Honey! I was first turned on to this delicacy by my friend Liz, who served it with some sort of cheese and told me it was even better with bleu cheese. She was right! Then, in Italy, we got some and had it with pecorino. Even tastier! It’s kind of hard to find. I ordered it on Amazon and can’t say that I am loyal to any one brand. You just need a little, so while a small jar may be $15, it will last through a lot of noshing.

Malin & Goetz Detox Face Mask! I like that you only have to put this mask on for 5 minutes. (Who has 20 – 30 minutes to sit with a bunch of gook on your face?) And I like that as soon as you put it on, it starts bubbling. Even if it’s not really working, it feels like it’s doing something! And then when you wash it off, lo and behold, your skin does feel super clean, without getting dried out. It’s got oxygen in it, which seems to make all the difference.

Vitamin C for your Eyes! I got this vitamin C eye serum in a gift bag, and it is the bomb. The brand isn’t available to the public so I can’t recommend it, but look for an eye gel or cream with vitamin c. I like the gel for night time — creams tend to make my eyes too puffy in the morning. It seems to make my eye area firmer and I don’t wake up with any extra fluid around the eyes.

Oh, I have so much more, but I will leave it at that for now…enjoy!

 

Customer Service or Bust

January 5, 2014

Happy New Year!!

I feel like people are so quick to slam companies that get it all wrong, so I am going to praise some companies who get it right. Let’s start the new year off on a positive note!

Nordstrom – People always talk about Nordstrom taking things back, but I had 2 things happen recently that have truly cemented them as a top-notch customer-service oriented biz. First, I headed to the after Xmas sales and happened to find 2 Vince sweaters I liked. One of them I was sure I had seen cheaper online, so as I slowly walked out of the fitting room, I did a quick search on my phone and found that yes, Neiman Marcus had the sweater $30 cheaper. So I went up to the register and asked if they did price matching. The saleswoman said yes, as long as you had a picture of the item online. So I showed her it on my phone, and without hesitation she matched the price. I headed home, and the next evening, I wanted to wear one of the sweaters. I took it out and — EPIC FAIL — the security tag was still attached. So I went to the other and there it was, plastic and ivory and ANNOYING. Especially because I don’t live near a Nordstrom. I grabbed the receipt and called from the car to express my displeasure and see if there was anything I could do besides schlep back out to the store. Vanessa, the manager of that department, listed to my tale and said she would call me back with a potential solution, and apologized profusely. Within 10 minutes she called to say that they would send someone to my house to take the security tags off. Fur reals! She gave me the number of who to call to arrange it, and I am happy to report that Juan came to my apartment building this morning and removed both security tags. Couldn’t have been nicer.

Sephora – Receipts get lost. But sometimes you regret a purchase. Sephora will take back their product without a receipt and give you store credit, no questions asked. Well, they may ask you why. But I like the peace of mind that the tinted moisturizer I bought, but then found a much better formula, can go back at any time. Keeps me loyal!

Space NK – If you’re into high end beauty products (and who isn’t, really? 🙂 Space NK’s N.Dulge rewards program is for you. You get $5 back for every $100 you spend on the well-edited collection. But here’s where you can get crafty: do it in the Space NK boutique in Bloomingdale’s and you’ll get N.Dulge points AND double Bloomie’s Loyalist points. Bonus!

Keepin’ it Positive

And what’s more positive than Happy, Pharrell Williams’ catchy tune from Despicable Me 2. (By the way, are my kids the only ones completely obsessed with this movie? We bought it from itunes and they watch at least part of it EVERY DAY!) Anyway, Pharrell has put together an amazing 24 hour music video for the song. Yes, 24 hours, shot in real time. You have to see it to comprehend how cool it is. Check it out at 24hoursofhappy.com.   You don’t need to watch the whole thing to get the gyst. It will start the video at exactly what time it is on your computer at that moment…you can stay there or jump around. There are celeb cameos, one of my favs being Magic Johnson, who danced at 5:36 am in his house, and shows off his amazing trophy room at his house in California! Pharrell shows up at the top of every hour. Enjoy!

Etc.

I was all set to be back into my routine and then blam! The snowstorm keeps my kids home from school and throws a wrench into things. What can you do?! Just go with it…we had an amazing, relaxing break, and I actually got lots of sleep. So much so that when I went back to work, a woman said, “You look refreshed.” And I responded, “Imagine that! The cure for dark circles is getting enough sleep!!” We should all throw out all of our useless creams and serums and just hit the hay. Word.

Back in the Saddle

December 9, 2013

Break my day!

Break my day!

Hey blogosphere — I actually can’t believe how long it has been. Sorry about that. As they say, life happens…but I am back! Just in time for the holidays.

Having people over? Don’t want to put out your fancy glasses for fear of a smash, but environmentally opposed to going through 50 plastic cups in an evening? I love these Govino wine glasses. They’re cool looking, with a thumb print on the side for easy holding, They’re light and while they’re made for wine, any beverage works. At $14 for 4, you can stock up. I like to use them in our backyard — no need to worry if something slips onto the stone patio. A set or two with a nice bottle of wine makes a lovely holiday gift for a hostess. They’re great for picnics and yes, rowdy holiday parties. Bottoms up! (You can buy them here at MoMA.)

Neighborhood Joints

I had been wanting to try Calliope for a while — it was on a few end of year lists last year as being a great little neighborhood place, with delish french food. Being a west sider, it took me several months to make a plan over on the east side, but we did it, and it was worth it. The food is very good – the menu is abbreviated, but you can definitely find something enticing. I had the halibut, which was very tasty and a large portion — I actually couldn’t finish it. It’s always packed and it’s not a big place, so you need a res, and it can get loud. But people are having fun, enjoying life, and you can’t help but enjoy that!

This past Friday night my son had a sleepover and we decided to take our daughter out to dinner. We couldn’t think of where we wanted to go, and we didn’t dare ask her, because if it’s up to her, we end up wherever she can get a rice and bean burrito. At the last minute I threw out Francisco’s Centro Vasco, where I had been once with a friend before a movie. If you haven’t been, you must check it out. It’s old school Manhattan, and I mean that in the most loving way. The waiters dress up. They let you past a velvet rope to head to your table. They hand you a list of lobster sizes and prices and tie the bib around your neck. All dinners come with salad, green beans and potato (the chips are fresh and tasty, although I am partial to an old fashioned baked). If you ask for a glass of wine, there is no list. They’ll just tell you to get the merlot. Everyone goes for the lobster, but my husband had scallops that looked good, and my daughter had shrimp and yellow rice that she loved. (And there was enough left over for hers and my son’s lunch the next day.) Not much tops $25, which is pretty amazing for seafood and all of the sides included. I recommend the lobster broiled, btw.

Etc.

Well, the first snow happened. I came home from staying at a hotel in NJ last night, took a nap and then decided to stay in the rest of the day. I got a lot done, and watched 4 episodes of The Mindy Project. (I want to really like that show, but it’s just not that good.) I love how a layer of snow blankets the noise of the city, especially on a Sunday. Tomorrow it’s back to the messy, noisy reality. Pack on the layers…it’s supposed to get even colder. I guess it is December!

Belle of the Fall

October 7, 2013

Gettin' cozy at Lafayette

Gettin’ cozy at Lafayette

Well, Fall is in full swing, blogosphere, and i hope you have been out and about taking advantage of all it has to offer. I sure have been. Let’s take today’s post to talk about restaurants. Some new ones:

Lafayette

In the old China Brasserie space — or, for those of you who can really think back, the older Time Cafe and Fez space (if those walls could talk) — chef a la momento Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde and Dutch fame goes French…very French. The large space has been broken up to feel cozier, and there is a large outdoor seating area. If you’re lucky, you’ll score a banquette where you and your date can sidle up next to one another. Quelle romantique! There’s lots of white tile and candles and servers everywhere but they are still working out some kinks. (Our appetizers came out right away but then there was a super long gap before our entrees appeared. So much so that they ended up giving us each a glass of free wine to tie us over.)

Anyway, get to the food! The egg lafayette is like the most incredible deviled egg you have ever eaten. Try it, for sure, with a glass of champagne. Why not?! The pate maison was just so-so, although the large mason jar of cornichons was a nice touch. I decided to go with the duck, which was not a usual choice for me but it was a good one — it was juicy and tasty and cooked just right. For dessert we had a pear tatin for 2, which wasn’t the best I’ve ever had (Cafe Pompidou in Paris, FYI), but it was good and seemed like a perfect French ending. It’s definitely a scene at the moment, and that makes it fun.

DB Bistro Moderne

I had been to this Daniel Boulud restaurant years ago, and found it to be so-so. They just renovated and re-did the menu so we went back with some friends. I am still not blown away, but there were some highlights. (The menu is a bit confusing — there is a traditional and a nouveau area. Ask the server to explain.) The escargot spaetzle is pretty darn good, and isn’t something you’re going to make at home anytime soon. The pretzel rolls they set on the table are pretty darn good, too. And the wine selection is great. If you’re in midtown, it’s worth sitting at the bar and ordering a drink with some appetizers. It’s definitely hopping and the room is nice, but I’m still not sold of dropping $200 for a not-so-out-of-the-ordinary evening.

And then, on the west coast in San Francisco:

Central Kitchen

This is California Cuisine at its best — definitely worth doing the tasting menu and letting the chef go crazy. It’s all locally sourced and everyone there is too cool for school — but that’s just another night in the Mission. Open another fantastic bottle of wine, get lost in some conversation and just enjoy the tasty plates as they keep on coming.

Mikkeller

My friend wanted me to meet her here for some beer and small plates before I got on a plane back to the east coast, and as I was walking to meet her I thought she was trying to get me killed. Seriously! This bar is incredible, but it is in a sketchy area, pretty much in the Tenderloin. It’s a bizarre oasis in a sea of SROs. But get there early if you want a seat at the bar — the worker bees from Twitter, Facebook, and whatever other start up is nearby fill up the place fast. They let you try any beer you want, and they’ve got about 42 beers on tap from some of the best breweries around the world. And the food is no joke! Many were ordering the sausage sampler…we skipped that but did get some pickled veggies, figs with goat cheese and prosciutto, french fries…you can’t really go wrong.

That should wet your whistle…next time I’ve got some beauty recos, among other things.

Etc.

Doesn’t the weekend always go so fast?! Mentally preparing to get back to the grind…eye of the tiger! 🙂

Chop Chop

September 9, 2013

Iced coffee -- one of my fav summer treats that I will take into fall!

Iced coffee — one of my fav summer treats that I will take into fall!

Well, summer is really over, my friends. My kids head back to school tomorrow and it is back to the jam-packed routine of life, and don’t forget to pack a lunch! Here are some things I will take away from this summer:

Making an effort for breakfast really can change the day: I am such a creature of routine, and I like to fit my workout in in the morning, pre-breakfast, which on the weekends can push brekkie back pretty late. But my daughter is a huge fan of breakfast on the beach, so a few times I ditched the routine, stopped at the bakery and hit the sand way early. And it was great — we beat the crowds (one day we had the beach to ourselves for almost an hour!), we had a chance to chat in a new venue, we gained more time to get things done in the afternoon…in the city my husband will sometimes take the kids for bagels before school, breaking out of that rut. And they seem to have more meaningful conversations. I am going to try to use this time wisely and break out of my routine now and again.

The food processor is your friend: I’m not sure why, but I avoided this kitchen gadget like the plague. Until I decided I couldn’t anymore. And it is fantastic. Have a bunch of tomatoes? Cut them up, throw them in with some cilantro, garlic, onion, lime juice and 2 jalapenos. Pulse a few times and you’ve got salsa for everyone on your margarita list. I also made this smoky eggplant dip from the NY TImes. I did not make the homemade pita chips, but more brownie points for you if you do. The multigrain pita chip from Trader Joe’s worked well. And if you are in the market for a food processor, check out Bloomingdale’s one day home sales which they seem to have fairly frequently. They typically have a nice-sized Cuisinart on sale for under $100.

Moisturizing does make a difference: I never thought I would regularly put oil on my face, but I still love Tata Harper’s Replenishing Nutrient Complex. And for body, especially after sun, Sun Bum’s Cool Down smells just about as summery as you can get. (My daughter walk around with it, asking people to sniff it. “Doesn’t this smell good??”) I will use it well into winter to keep my skin soft and to remind me of these sun-soaked days.

Get everything done so you can take time to relax: With everything going on, except for the few minutes when I typically read before I hit the hay, I rarely will just sit and chill. But this summer I actually read every single magazine I had in my possession (trust me, it was a lot) and read Gone Girl (pretty good — I can see why they are making a movie)  and Mark Bittman’s VB6 (I love Bittman and I think so much of what he says makes sense, but I just cannot see myself cooking every meal — breakfast, lunch and dinner — completely from scratch and so while I will take a few tips, I do not think I will be vegan before 6.) There were times when I was reading that I had this weird sensation that I should be getting things done, but I would push it aside and give myself permission to chill.

Trying something new always has rewards: This summer I made a key lime pie from scratch, tried out TRX, made steamers at home, created leather and metal bracelets — all for the very first time. And whether they stick (I now have a new exercise in my repertoire, every Wednesday) or not (it’s probably easier for my husband to buy himself a key lime pie), the journey teaches you things you may not have even thought about. And it’s just plain fun.

Bring on the fall!

Etc.

I am giving myself Origins’ Charcoal Mask right now to clear out any last summer impurities!

Congrats to Serena Williams — pretty amazing.

Hope you have a great week!

Unsung Standbys

August 17, 2013

There is always so much hype about the latest and greatest restaurants, but last week I went out with my husband to a neighborhood spot that has been around forever, sat in the garden on a lovely night, and it really got me thinking that so many of these old timers don’t get their just due. We were at East of Eighth on 23rd Street, and while I can’t say that you’ll be bowled over by the food, it’s quite good and the prices are kept fairly reasonable (this is Manhattan, after all). The entrees top out at $25, and that’s for a steak dinner. There is a large bar if you’re looking for a spot to drink, but the real attraction here is the back garden. Our waiter was incredibly nice and the service is efficient without anyone feeling rushed. They also do a nice brunch on the weekends. It shows up on Groupon every once in a while, and that makes it a deal you can’t pass up. Great location if you are headed to the movies next door!

Alexis Bittar is on Revolve!

Alexis Bittar is on Revolve!

Revolve

There are so many shopping sites it is hard to differentiate them, truly. Have you been to revolveclothing.com? They seem to have a lot of in demand brands and a nice selection. Plus, the differentiation point for me is free shipping and free returns, and they have it. (Note to Neiman Marcus: get on the bandwagon for free returns.) I may try it before September 13th, because until then you can get 25% off full price merchandise with the code PSWFALL25. You can only use it one time and there are a few restrictions, but you’re welcome!

Etc.

I forgot to water my plants before we left my house for the week a couple of weeks ago and now I just cannot get them back to the glorious state they were in. Ugh! I lost too many blooms. I had been doing a combo of plain water twice a week and water with Miracle Gro (which really works!) every few weeks and they were doing so well and really made my front porch beautiful. I guess I will give them a shot of Miracle Gro today and see if they improve. Now they’re just green with a few fuschia blooms here and there. I guess it could be worse.

Headed to the beach today — i thought it was supposed to be nice all weekend but now they are saying rain tomorrow. Guess that means errands for me!

You’re My Obsession

August 6, 2013

Do you know how hard it is to find fast, healthy recipes that correspond to the food restrictions in this house? My husband doesn’t eat cheese or eggs. I don’t eat beef or pork and I try not eat too much pasta or rice. I am sick of my same old recipes! I’m into this bulgur wheat and peach recipe lately — I will have to share it soon…

Anyway…Tonight I’d rather talk about 2 new beauty products in my repertoire that I am loving. Loving!

Love.

Love.

The first is Hello Sailor! lipstick from Lipstick Queen by Poppy. First off, it’s blue. That in itself is cool. But it goes on kind of berry color — purplish/red. It’s sheer without being too sheer, and definitely gives you more color than a lip balm, yet it feels more like a balm than a gloss. Ya with me? I love it on it’s own, and one night I layered it with another pinkish color lippy I have, and it was even better. It’s definitely mixable with other colors to give them a little more pop. I think it’s supposed to make your teeth look whiter. Not sure about that, but in every other way I am down with it.

It’s a Barneys exclusive. And since their site has free shipping in the US, it’s a no brainer. You don’t even have to get up off the couch. $25.

Next on my list is something for the hair. I really like the look of my hair apres swim in the ocean. The sand and saltwater make it a bit wavy, relaxed and somehow sun-kissed. Apparently I am not

Does as promised!

Does as promised!

alone, because there are a rash of products that promise to make your hair look just like that. I decided to try Sachajuan Ocean Mist, and from the beautiful blue color to the bottle that looks like glass but isn’t to the most important thing: it works, well, this is another winner. I should say that my hair is pretty thick to begin with. But I think this would add some body to any thickness. I wash my hair, towel dry it and then spray a few spritzes all over before I head out the door. It dries fuller and with a bit more wave. Score! They carry this at Sephora, but they are out, so I ordered this from Barneys too. $28.

Finally, nails. I think i have mentioned that I am all about clear polish on my hands. I just cannot bear to look at obvious chips, and I can’t set aside time between manicures to take off the polish. So clear lets me ignore the inevitable glitches. So I was intrigued by Dior’s Nail Glow. It over promises a bit in that it says it will make your nails look like you have a french manicure with just one coat. It doesn’t. But it does make the pink of your nails pinker and the whites whiter, and somehow just one coat makes your nails look more well-kept than just plain old clear. Plus I’ve had it on for almost a week now and there are no visible chips. And I applied it myself! That is crazy. i would say if you like the look of clear on your nails, you’ll like this even better. I ordered it from Nordstrom online. Any beauty orders from there let you pick 3 free samples, and they have free shipping too. $24.

That should keep you occupied for a while…my work here is done!

Etc.

The weather in NYC has been glorious. Yesterday was just about as perfect a beach day as they come, and we took advantage of it! Over 7 hours of sand and surf. Makes coming back to reality that much harder, but I was off today so that helped. Re-entry tomorrow. At least I have my new fav products to help me face the day! Ha ha.

Glimpse Into Fall

July 27, 2013

Who couldn't use a new hoodie from Quiksilver???

Who couldn’t use a new hoodie from Quiksilver???

Well I skipped dessert last night and did an extra workout this morning in the name of getting my fav cheese danish from the bakery this morning, which I have yet to have this summer, and wouldn’t you know it: sold out! There’s some sort of moral in that story but…strawberries and yogurt it is!

Let’s turn our attention now to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. This is a yearly event and I like it because it offers real savings on things before the season, and it’s things you might actually want! If your kids need back to school sneakers, they’ve got some Nikes. I like these adidas kicks but my son wasn’t into them. For women, these Frye boots are pretty rad, and they’ve got a bunch of denim and other staples if you’re in need. I also like the beauty exclusives they do for the sale, like these brushes from MAC.

Definitely worth taking a look around the sire. And Nordstrom, bless their hearts, always have free shipping and free returns, whatever the amount you spend. If you”re buying shoes and aren’t sure of the fit, I recommend ordering 2 sizes and then shipping the one back that doesn’t fit. That way you don’t end up disappointed if what you want is sold out. Sale is til August 5th, and then prices head back up.

Leg Up

There are a few things that I just have a hard time spending a lot of coin on — black leggings are one of them. These from Old Navy work well — and they come in long and a cropped version. They hold their shape and their color, which is a lot more than I can say for some other brands. And at less than $13, well, enough said.

Etc.

We are trying a new restaurant tonight — Ohana Grill. Heard it was good so we’ll see. Also I have yet to get there but people are raving about the fried chicken at Hybird, the fried chicken, dumplings and cupcake joint in Chelsea market from Stephen Starr and Questlove. Sounds like a must-try, no?

So glad the heat has broken, unfortunately as I look outside it is like the sun has gone away too! 😦 Happy weekend!!