My normal beauty routine for my hair consists of washing it, toweling it dry so it’s not dripping wet, and — well, there is no and, because I truly have a wash and wear cut. I don’t like when hair looks “done” — for me, the messier the better. But what you learn with a wash and wear style is that the cut is what makes it all possible. Go too long, and you just look like a mess, not fashionably messy. And right now, I need a haircut. I was a little in denial about it over the weekend and was trying to blame the shampoo at the hotel, but now that I’m back to my regular routine I can’t hide from the truth. Unfortunately, I have no time this week to even think about going to the salon.

080878029952_med1That’s when Pantene Pro V Style Texturize! Texture and Shine Defining Pomade comes in. I think I had a coupon when I originally decided to try it, and I was pleasantly surprised that it really does make a difference. I use it whenever I need a little more polish. It works on dry hair — you rub a little on all your fingertips and then you just run it through your hair lightly, fixing your hair as you go so it looks good to you. It works all day or all through an event (like a wedding), doesn’t have an annoying smell, and you really just need a little, which means one jar lasts a long time. Plus, the price is totally reasonable. Win, win all around! ( A 1.7 ounce jar is about $4.50. I buy it at Duane Reade, but you can get it in just about any drugstore or Target — wherever Pantene products are sold.)

Join the Club!

Have you taken our survey yet? What are you waiting for! Get to it! It’s like voting…if you don’t do it, you can never complain about what’s on the site again! (Ha ha) Click here to take our short but oh-so-helpful survey. You’ll be glad you did! Thanks to all of you who have taken it. Really appreciate it!

Get Dirty

My husband told Austin that he used to plant flowers in empty egg cartons, so of course Austin wanted to do it right away. I am now the proud owner of about 8 quarts of dirt. (Maybe I actually need a quarter of a quart. Ugh.) That’s the smallest bag Target or Lowe’s sold. I guess most people buying it don’t live in Manhattan and only need to fill an empty egg carton! Anyway, it is a fun little project to do with your kids — they get so excited when something actually grows and comes up. Besides flowers, you can grow herbs like basil or chives, and you can use them when you cook dinner — that will really impress them!

Etc.

It is so windy here today. Really crazy — it literally blew me back while I was crossing the street! Everyone just wants spring to arrive and STAY. It’s supposed to be nice tomorrow — of course I’ll be on a train and inside for the whole day.

Just a reminder that if you don’t like something your elected officials are doing, they work for you. Call or write their office and let them know. I am fed up with the MTA and its decision to hike fares 30%, so I called my state senator’s office in Albany. You might think it doesn’t do anything, but you’ll feel better that you actually did something instead of just complaining, and if enough people call or write, it will spur them into some sort of action.

My lovely children passed on their fabulous coughs to me. It’s horrible! I woke up in the middle of the night with a coughing fit. Such a drag. I am all about vitamin C and Zicam.

Hope you’re all feeling well!

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Draw on the Walls, Kids

March 30, 2009

5166et3cifl_aa400_One of the cheapest toys for kids is actually a great way for them to express themselves artistically: a box of crayons. My children, particularly Austin, will sit for a while and draw all sorts of things, from self-portraits to outdoor scenes to robots and bugs. And in restaurants, it’s an excellent, portable way to make the time pass between ordering and actually getting the food, without having them devour the entire bread basket or dump out all of the sugar/Sweet N Low/Splenda packets. The drawback is that kids don’t always stick to paper: tables, clothes, walls, counters and carpets are all targets for the errant (or deliberate) scribble. Which is where washable crayons from Crayola come in. Same great colors, but marks just wipe up or wash out. We’ve banished any crayons that aren’t washable from our home, having been burned a couple of times. It’s peace of mind when they pick up a crayon to color — it’s a beautiful thing, and not a potential weapon. (Available at Target and other places you’d buy art supplies. A box of 16 Crayola Washable Crayons is about $3.50.)

It’s Survey Week!

Just a reminder to please take five minutes and click here to take our short but oh-so-helpful survey!!! It will help to make these pages into even more of what you want to read every day. Thanks in advance!

And Finally…

We roadtripped to Pennsylvania to meet my new little nephew. Very cute! Addison gave him lots of hugs.

Since my parents were staying at my sister’s, we stayed in a Homewood Suites hotel, which is owned by Hilton. It was good — it’s nice with the kids to have a separate bedroom so you can shut the door when they go to sleep and the parents can still stay up. The breakfast was decent (actual fresh fruit!) and they bake cookies every night. Bath products are from Neutrogena. Plus the rooms have kitchenettes. I think the key with those sorts of hotels is to stay at the newer ones — once they’ve been around for a while they tend to get worn out. But I would stay there again.

We also ate a good French restaurant for brunch today — Confit, on Market Street in Camp Hill. If you’re in the Harrisburg area, check it out — apparently they have an all you can eat moules frites night (that’s mussels and french fries to you) on Monday nights — $18. And believe me when I say finding a good French restaurtant in Central Pennsylvania is a true find! (And no, that’s not NYC snobbery, that’s just a fact!) It’s about 20 minutes from Hersheypark, and it just might be worth the drive if you’ve had enough fast food.

Thunder and lightening just cleared out all of the fog and I can see the Empire State Building again. Kind of a gloomy weekend, weather-wise. Hope you took advantage of it and got some stuff done inside!

Help Us Help You

March 27, 2009

family-fav-logo-webOK people, Family Favs has been around for about 3 months now, and we want to hear from YOU! We want to know how to best serve your needs: how often do you read Family Favs? What would you like to see more of? We promise the survey is short — 8 little questions, most requiring just a click. It’s anonymous, but collectively we’ll be able to get a better picture of our audience and your wants and needs. So come on, you know you love it when it’s all about you! This is your chance to have your opinion matter and shape the blog you know and love.

Click here to take our short (but very worthwhile) survey!

THANK YOU!!

Single of the Week

If it’s Thursday, that means I have to give Ken the floor:

“If you took a lot of bits and pieces from your early nineties college radio station, you’d get The Pains of Being Pure at Heart — fun, driving melodies, disaffected lyrics and slapdash production quality. Remember those days, when you were ransacking your parents’ savings instead of having AIG and Citigroup ransack yours? Real cool, Citigroup. Real cool.”

And Finally…

Everyone in NYC (everyone who takes mass transit, anyway) is up in arms over the MTA’s vote yesterday to raise fares 25 – 30 percent on most lines, including the subway. No one understands why if the Agency is so mismanaged, they don’t clean house and get people in there who know what they’re doing. And, why aren’t the state’s elected officials figuring out a plan to help ease the burden on every single taxpayer who commutes? I was so enraged I actually called my state senator’s office in Albany today. Big surprise, no one called me back.

We are excited to meet the new bambino this weekend, so we are roadtrippin’ to my sister’s in Pennsylvania.

Austin said to me this morning, “After today we can all be together, right?” It’s so cute that that’s what he thinks of when he thinks of the weekend. I said, “Yes!” and told him all of the fun things we will do together.

Hope you can get out this weekend and do something together with your friends and family, too!

Thanks again for taking the survey — it’s a tremendous help.

fruitabutwirlsNothing sparks fear in a working mom’s heart like hearing that it’s your turn to provide a healthy snack for your child’s whole hungry class. That was actually the first time I felt any sort of divide between working and non-working moms. Who do you think sent in the beautifully cut fruit skewers or the fresh baked banana muffins? Not me! So I’m constantly on a quest to find healthy, easy, kid-approved snacks to send in. One thing I’ve found that has been a big hit is FruitaBu. Better than a fruit roll up (it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup — why that’s allowed in things that are marketed as healthy is a mystery to me), FruitaBu is essentially organic smooshed fruit, a la fruit leather. There’s no sugar added. It comes in different shapes and forms — we like the fruit flats. And It comes in all sorts of flavors — strawberry and grape are favorites in our house. Pair it with a nice crackery type treat (today I sent it in with some mini-cheddar rice cakes) and you’ve got a delicious snack any mom would be proud of. So you no longer have to hide from the snack sign up sheet. Because we all notice who never signs up, don’t we?! And whether or not you’re a working mom, it makes a great snack at home. (I buy FruitaBu at Target but I’ve seen it in many grocery stores. It runs about $4 for a box of 8 packets.)

Follow-up

As I predicted last week, apparently Stephen Colbert did in fact win NASA’s poll to pick the name of the new room at the international space station. Silly astrophysicists that they are, they allowed write-ins in addition to the 4 names they came up with. “Colbert” beat “Serenity” by 40,000 votes. Well, now NASA is backtracking and saying they will make the ultimate decision, and they have to “think” about it. To which Colbert retorted, “You space guys think too much.” Oh, when faux pundits and national space programs collide…

Etc.

I was lucky enough to be invited over to the home and studio of Betty Woodman last night, one of if not the foremost ceramic artists of our time. (Funny enough, she lives a block from us.) She invited a small group over to show us some of her recent pieces and to talk about her philosophy and background.

Now that's a vase!

Now that's a vase!

Lo and behold, it was a high school teacher who inspired her to go into ceramics, once again proving how important teachers can be in a person’s life. She gave us sneak peeks of what she is currently working on, including a piece for the new American embassy in Beijing, and several large painting/ceramic mixed media pieces that have been commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I was jealous when she told us about her other studio on a farm outside of Florence, Italy! It was so interesting to hear what’s inspiring her lately (she loves the Bonnard exhibit that’s currently at the Met) and to see all of the objects she keeps around her in her studio. And she was very understanding when I had to leave a little early to put my kids to bed! A very inspiring way to spend an evening.

Hope you made it through Wednesday (don’t they call it hump day?) intact. Take care!

Out, Out Damned Spot!

March 25, 2009

I have written in the past about brand loyalty, and how I use many of the same products now that my mom used when I was growing up. Shout stain remover was one of those products. But I was visiting my sister and needed to wash some of my kids’ clothes, and I used OxiClean. 200-1It took the stains out, no problem. So I bought some the next time I was at Target. I hadn’t used it because I was finishing up the last of the Shout, but Saturday morning I went in to get Addison from her crib to find dried up throw up all over her, her crib sheet and bumpers. And apparently she had eaten blueberries for dessert the night before. Good morning! So we headed down to the laundry room and I told Ken it was a test for OxiClean — if it took the stains out, we would buy it again. If not, we’d go back to Shout. It took the stains out of her cute pajamas completely, and the mattress pad as well. The sheet still had a bit of a stain, but maybe you can’t expect miracles. This was a worst-case scenario…so I bought some more! I definitely recommend it for your stain-fighting needs. (OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover Spray runs about $6 for 21.5 ounces.) I also just noticed on their website that they have a new version for babies which is absent any fragrance, dyes, etc. I haven’t used it so I don’t know if the baby version is any match for spit up carrots, but I like that they’re giving Dreft a run for its money.

In Praise of…

grapefruitFrom time to time I’ll write about something that may seem obvious but its greatness is lurking just off the radar…today, it’s the grapefruit. A perfect little orb of juicy sweetness, packed with vitamin C, and cheapest in the winter when other fruit goes sky high. Uh huh — now you’re with me. Invest in a handy, curved grapefruit knife. Half of one is a great way to start the day — I have it before I head to the gym. It helps to wake me up and I’m happy that I’ve already got a serving of fruit inside of me. Plus, when my daughter stands before me, hand outstretched, calling “Piece! Piece!” I don’t feel bad giving her a wedge to enjoy. Thank you, Florida!

Boo!

This morning I saw an ad for something really stupid: Disney Eggs. Does your kid really need an egg with a picture of Mickey freakin’ Mouse stamped on it? All you’re going to do is crack his head open — I’m thinking that would be a little more traumatic for the kid than having to eat a plain old unbranded white egg. Bad brand extension, Mouse House. Stick to the millions of others licensed products you’ve got in your arsenal. You be the judge:

Etc.

Congratulations to David Letterman, my longtime crush, who went and got himself hitched to his baby momma Regina Lasko after dating her for 23 years. Don’t rush into anything! I’m sure your son Harry is happy.

My kids have coughs that will not rest. I just want them to get the mucus out — it’s coming out of their eyes now. Ew!

And finally, a big shout out to Michele in Connecticut who is going through a rough time right now, so let’s all send our good thoughts and positive energy Michele’s way.

Ciao!

It’s Go To Time

March 24, 2009

Find your go to outfit, stat!

Find your go to outfit, stat!

You’re busy. You work full time, which means all hours, because nobody works from 9 to 5 anymore, especially in this economy. And/or you’ve got kids who, go figure, have needs. And/or you’re in a relationship, and that takes time to tend to and keep it right (or at least civil), and/or you have a living space, which needs to be cleaned and repaired and decorated, and you and all of your potential hangers-on need to eat, so you’ve got to keep the fridge full and whip something up come to mealtime…I could go on. But this isn’t really about that. This is an assignment, because of that.

Carve out an hour for yourself and a mirror. Your mission? Find your go to outfit, from the lipstick down to your shoes. You need to have that outfit down pat no matter what else is going on in your life. Why? Because you’re busy! And the last thing you need to spend time doing in the am is standing in front of your closet, fretting over what blouse would look okay with what skirt. Do that in this hour. Important meeting at work? Find the top, bottoms, jacket, jewelry, makeup, socks/tights and shoes that make up the outfit that gives you the confidence you need. Commit it to memory. Write it down if you need to. And then the next time you have an important meeting at work, go to it. You don’t have to think about it, it’s done. You csn do it with other things too. Brunch with friends? Saturday night dinner with your husband? Interview for a new job? Done, done and done. The added bonus is that it will make you realize what does and doesn’t work for you, which gives you clues on what to look for the next time you’re out shopping. You know, with all of that found time you’ll have…File this under a little pro-activity going a long way.

For the Boys

Guys can save time with this approach as well, but men seem to have an easier time given the more narrow focus of their closets. Of course a great suit always looks nice, but a button down and khakis seems to be the clear favorite. 209410_426_41Our friend Andy was over tonight and he swears by the wrinkle-free button down shirts from LL Bean. (The official name is Wrinkle-Resistant Classic Oxford Cloth Shirt.) Apparently you literally wash it, hang it, put it on and go. Very low maintenance, which I like. And at $29.50, a veritable bargain. I think it’s worth trying out.

And Stretch

My pilates teacher (who’s stuck in Japan right now, but I digress) reminded me about the importance of stretching AFTER you exercise. If you’re on the treadmill or elliptical, you’ve got so much blood flowing downward that, according to her, even just lying with your feet up against the wall for a few minutes will help even out the blood flow to all of your muscles, and make your stretching more beneficial. I have been putting my legs up and then doing my ab crunches and my hamstrings have felt less tight, so maybe it is helping. Just something to keep in mind.

Hope your Monday was good!

Naturally Beautiful

March 23, 2009

beautyexclusive_2044_24118377As much as I can, I try to avoid beauty products that are loaded up with questionable ingredients. Parabens are big ones — it’s so nasty to think that they would load up a body wash, for example, with stuff that may cause cancer, for no apparent reason. The parabens don’t do anything substantial, and once they go down the drain, they’re leeching into the water supply. Nice. But there are more and more options out there for products that work well and do well by you and the environment. Korres is a line from Greece that I discovered several years ago on a trip to London. The fab department store Harvey Nichols was one of the first fancy shops to open a whole organic cosmetics section, and I’m always up for trying something new. Every time I went across the pond, I’d load up a shopping bag and bring back all kinds of potions and lotions you couldn’t buy in the States. (This was before the liquid restrictions in carry-ons.) Usually once the line started to be carried here, I was over it and on to the next thing. (Lush, anyone?) But I still use Korres, even though it’s pretty widely available here. I’m partial to their shower gels, which come in offbeat yet non-cloying scents. Right now our shower is sporting the fig. The basil and lemon is another favorite. And boys, this recommendation is for you too as the scents truly are unisex. (And as much as you think your au natural, whatever soap happens to be in the shower scent is sexy, let’s be honest, you could use a little help.) They have a store down in SoHo which carries their whole line (it’s at 110 Wooster — they do cosmetics, too, which I haven’t tried), or you can buy it at Sephora, among other places. The shower gels run about $13.

Sleep Tight and Don’t Let ‘Em Bite

I have been freaked out since learning that bed bugs can jump from one person to another. Meaning that you could be sitting next to someone on, say, the subway, and if they have bed bugs, they go from them to you and then if you happen to lie down on your bed…ewww! It’s funny because way before I even knew bed bugs were actually a real thing to worry about, I always had this rule that I never wore the same pajamas after I had stayed in a hotel until they had been washed.Turns out I was on to something. You have to be careful with your kids too — we always make them take off the clothes they were playing around outside in all day before they climb up and roll around on any of our beds. It’s such a gross thing to have to worry about it, but better safe than sorry, I always say. And any way even if there’s no bed bugs, it’s just cleaner.

Weekend Wrap-Up

My sister and her husband welcomed a new baby boy on Friday night. We’re glad he arrived safe and sound and now is home in his new digs. Congrats to them!

It was nice here this weekend but frankly, I was hoping for it to be a little warmer. There’s still a little chill in the air. I wanted that whiff of spring…I guess it’s something to look forward to.

Speaking of something to look forward to, I am in the process of booking our May vacation. I get depressed if I don’t have some sort of trip on the horizon. I’m thinking a sit on the beach and do nothing place would be great. Did someone say Caribbean?

Hope you all had a good one and the re-entry into the week isn’t too painful!

Oh Stephen Colbert

March 20, 2009

images-1Stephen Colbert was on the Today show this morning promoting some new movie. The guy is a riot. Apparently he is pushing his followers to vote on the NASA website to name part of the space station after him, and he is ahead by about half a million votes. Meredith Viera was like, “You’re just kidding, right? If you win you don’t really want it named after you, right?” And he looked at her like she was crazy. “Why wouldn’t I?” “Well, it’s a little egomaniacal, isn’t it? ” Viera asked. Again, Colbert looked at her as if she was insane. “Have you seen my show?” Had me laughing out loud on the elliptical. Then, when Viera was doing one of her seamless transitions to commercial (not), she asked Colbert about Twitter. “Have you tweeted? she asked, trying to seem all down with the lingo. “I have twatted,” Colbert answered, deadpan. You could hear the crew cracking up as Viera turned red and they went to commercial. Hilarious. If you want to watch it instead of imagining it from my brilliant retelling, click here to see the interview from the Today show website. The part I’m referring to comes up just after 4:15. But they cut the “twatted” ending online. Go figure. If you want to see that, here you go:

El Single de la Semana

Here’s Ken:

“Neko Case has been in and out of bands like Her Boyfriends and The New Pornographers, outside of and around the mainstream musical spotlight, yet consistently in the center of the alt-country scene. She dabbles in folk, hymns, melancholy melodies and a touch of twang, all smoothed out by her voice. A voice that tells it like it is, albeit with a dose of pathos. This Tornado Loves You, from her latest album Middle Cyclone, spins her graceful singing and songwriting around the themes of nature and destruction found throughout the album. If Rome were burning, she’d be your siren. (Come to think of it, Rome kinda’ is burning. Crap.)”

And Finally…
Had a fun dinner with Bret and Randall at Buddakan — always good to hang out with old friends (and I mean “old” in the best sense of the word), even if they do tease me about preferring nice hotels…
Oh, the weekend is almost here! Love that…we haven’t been making a lot of plans because my sister is about to give birth, so our weekends are blissfully open wide.
And I spoke too soon…Addison’s fever is back. (Sigh.)
Have a good one!

Bake and Freeze

March 19, 2009

turkeymeatloafsmToday’s recipe for turkey meatloaf is a good one — not only is it easy to make, tasty and healthy, but it’s ready to freeze so that you can pull it out any night of the week and heat it up.

Turkey Meatloaf

1/4 cup diced onion

3/4 lb. ground turkey

3/4 cup dry whole-wheat bread crumbs

1 egg white

Pinch salt

Pinch black pepper

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Lightly spray baking sheet or loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well.

Form meat into loaf shape on baking sheet or put in loaf pan. Bake about 40 minutes or until loaf is firm to the touch.

It’s so easy to make that I often make it along with whatever I’m cooking for Sunday night dinner, so that I only have to turn the oven on once. Then I freeze it, and whatever night I get home tired from work and want to reheat it, I put it into the microwave to defrost it, then I put it into the toaster oven at 350 degrees for about ten minutes so it gets that nice crispy outside. Broccoli and mashed potatoes finish off the meal. Barbecue sauce also makes a good accompaniment. Enjoy!

We Have a Pulse

Apparently George Clooney’s return to ER last week gave the show its highest ratings in two years. Oh, George. Give that guy a spin-off!

Me

My friend Katherine was in town from the West Coast and she threw a lovely cocktail party this evening. I have been in a total jeans rut but I actually put on a dress for the occasion so Kitty, you should feel honored! It was at the National Arts Club in Gramercy  — a really incredible building that has been the home of this club for artists and writers for over 100 years. Truly a taste of old New York, which is so good to see alive and kicking.

I think Addison finally ditched her fever. Unfortunately it has not stopped her from waking up before dawn so this whole week I’ve felt slightly out of sorts. My eyes/sinuses feel puffy, and I’m not sure it’s from lack of sleep or allergies kicking in. Yes, spring arrives for real on Friday! It went fast, didn’t it?

Hope you’re all doing well!

spinachlittlessmallI try really hard to make sure my kids get a protein, a vegetable, a grain and a fruit every lunch and dinner. My feeling is if I don’t teach them healthy eating habits now, it’s only going to be harder the older they get. The vegetable part is usually the toughest. After four years, Austin is partial to carrots and broccoli and requests which one he wants with his meal. Addison is a little more difficult, and it often means wrapping some sort of vegetable in cheese to get her to eat it. But I keep trying…

One thing I discovered in the frozen food aisle makes giving them spinach a little easier: Dr. Praeger’s Spinach Littles. They’re essentially spinach and potato in the shapes of dinosaurs and stars. You throw them into the toaster oven for about 10 minutes and you have a perfect side dish for whatever you’re serving. Both of my kids love them. They’re all natural and gluten free. The brand makes other things for kids — Broccoli Littles, Sweet Potato Littles — but we’ve only tested the spinach. I tried one and they are tasty — they make them in adult-sized portions as well (alas no shapes but a boring old circle for us). They’re simply called “Spinach Pancakes.” They’re all easy ways to add in some healthy variety. (A 12 ounce package sells for about $3.50. Check the frozen food section of your supermarket — I get ours at Whole Foods.)

Negative Energy Drink

I came across a word that could become a favorite (frankly I’m a little upset I didn’t come up with it): Haterade. As in Gatorade, but with a whole lotta negativity. New York mag’s Vulture used it like this when describing an article Newsday‘s John Anderson wrote about Julia Roberts: “While Anderson doesn’t entirely dismiss Roberts’s career or acting ability, he does spend an ample amount of time dousing Haterade on her work in the early nineties (“Painfully predictable” and “Painfully implausible” are how he describes Sleeping With the Enemy and The Pelican Brief, respectfully).” It’s so good! I did a little digging and apparently it came into the lexicon in 2006. We must band together and make it more widespread!

Comings and Goings

It’s sad when a store goes out of business, but when it’s somewhere you actually really like and frequent, it’s all the more painful. We are mourning the loss of Maroon’s, a friendly and delicious southern/Carribean restaurant that recently had to close up. We never had a bad meal, and it was kid-friendly, as well. The first time we took Austin there, I tentatively asked if they had a high chair (not a guarantee in NYC). The owner, Arlene, looked taken aback that I would think they wouldn’t have one. “This is a family restaurant!” she reminded me. And it really was. We’re sad to see it go.

Etc.

Ken and I went out to Wallse the other night. Still very good, but not cheap. At 8pm it didn’t seem that crowded, but by 9pm it was almost full. So that was encouraging. We were looking around at all of the fresh flowers and wines and talking about how much money it takes to keep a higher end restaurant running in times like these. Not easy!

I’m happy Gossip Girl had a new episode last night…but it was just okay. They had a good line about mercury poisoning (poor Jeremy Piven, even GG is piling on), other than that it was eh. But I’ll still be watching!

Later…