Do Good, Feel Better

April 30, 2009

If you’re at all like me, you want to volunteer and give back but you can’t commit to a regular gig. My life changes day to day, and sometimes by the hour, so committing to something, say, once a week would be an added pressure that I don’t think my schedule could take. But there are plenty of opportunities out there for the doing that are very flexible, whether it be a one-time thing or a whenever you can do it. At times like these, when budgets are being slashed to the bone, volunteers are needed more than ever. And for those of you who have ever given your time and your expertise to a worthy organization, what you get back is so positive and powerful, it makes finding the time very, very worth it. Here are a few ideas to dip your toe in the volunteer waters:

Start Local: Are there things in your neighborhood that you could help with? What about your kids’ school? Libraries always need help, whether it be shelving or organizing books or reading books at storytime, a few hours there can make a big difference. Or what about your local playground? If your children play there a lot, your painting or trash pick-up or planting will be enjoyed by your own family and friends for weeks to come. When Ken and I volunteered recently in Central Park, it felt good to finish all of the scraping and painting because we knew so many Upper West Side kids would have a nicer place to play all spring and summer.

Get the Kids Involved: Depending on how old your kids are, volunteering with them teaches the importance of giving back and lets them appreciate their own good fortune. For smaller kids, you can do what Austin and I have done for the last couple of Augusts: buy a backpack and fill it with all kinds of school supplies, and donate it to a local shelter. Many homeless kids can’t afford new things for back to school and I always explain to Austin why we’re doing it, and he gets to pick out the supplies we pack up. Last year he even drew a picture and put it inside for the recipient. Soup kitchens are good for kids who are a little older. I have a friend that goes with her family every Thanksgiving to serve dinner to the people at a shelter, and her kids are so attune to the fact that people are hungry and less fortunate.

Share Your Expertise: Especially in this time when so many people are out of work, many cities are putting together job fairs and job training seminars and would love someone to come and help people with their resumes or teach them a skill on the computer. Veterans organizations in particular are helping to retrain those coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq. Mentoring is such a rewarding thing — I mentored a woman at work and it was so gratifying when she was promoted and achieved her goals, and she was so appreciative of my sharing my experience.

Money Talks: OK, let’s say you really have no time to give. Giving money to cash-strapped organizations is always appreciated. So if you’re in the position to do it, look where you can make an impact. Obviously museums and universities are great to give to, but sometimes there are smaller places that could use the help. A site like donorschoose.org lets you see what school teachers across the country need for their classrooms, and you can pick a “wish” and make it come true for them and their students. Does your local middle school have an excellent chess team? Maybe you can donate to help defray the cost of the team traveling for the state finals.

There are so many worthy places to give, just think about what’s meaningful to you and your family and then do whatever you can. You’ll be very glad you did.

Overheard

“I mean, I understand it. Sometimes you just want them dead. With my ex-wife, I almost made the call.”

— One guy to another coming off the elevator at work.

Discounts

Jill from the great state of Pennsylvania (Helloooooo Arlen!) writes in with a deal from Origins online: 25% off everything until May 5th. Free shipping if you spend $75.  Just put in the code ffmaydm.

And if you need anything at Macys.com, here’s a code for 25% off and free shipping through May 4th: MACYSFF.

Get Real

I can’t stand when magazines do profiles of people and they ask them what book they’re reading and inevitably they choose some incredibly highbrow tome that you know they’re not reading and never will. Tonight on the subway home I was glancing at a piece about a working mom and she said she was reading The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria. Really? In between taking care of your kid, working long hours and trying to have a good marriage, that’s what you decided to pick up? Let me tell you something: I like Fareed Zakaria. I think he has an interesting perspective on the Middle East. I saw him on The Early Show this morning. But you know what I’m reading? People freakin’ magazine. And I’m ok with that! Ha ha.

Speaking of The Early Show, why was Kathy Ireland on as one of the hosts this morning? I hope she’s not joining that show. She was terrible. Haven’t television executives learned that being a model doesn’t mean you can speak well on camera? She was so forced, it was incredible. She needs a media coach, pronto! Yikes.

Etc.

Just watched the end of President Obama’s press conference. When you hear the guy list all of the problems facing our country right now, you realize we are really screwed! It’s like, “banking crisis, economic collapse, auto industry bailout, mortgage foreclosures, two wars, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, health care system overhaul — oh yeah, and swine flu pandemic…” It would be funny if it weren’t so…true! May the force be with you, Mr. President.

And may the force be with all of you. Purell is sold out in NYC — hope you all bought stock in that company last week.

Until tomorrow…

Lip-Tastic

April 29, 2009

f0_0300_0000_liptints1

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been on a quest to find beauty products that work that are also natural and organic. Because when you start to read about the terrible things that ingredients like parabens can cause, you really wonder why any company would put them into their products. And so many of them do. And if you think about how much lipstick we consume on an annual basis, well, let’s just say that lippy has been first on my list in terms of finding natural ones that I like. So when the good folks at Yes to Carrots, a natural skincare line, asked me to try out their brand spankin’ new line of lip tints and lip glosses, I was excited. I am happy to report that they did not disappoint.

The C Me Shine Lip Glosses and C Me Blush Lip Tints are 100% natural and 95% organic, and they all contain peppermint oil which gives ’em a nice tingle on your lips and freshens your breath just a touch. Plus they’re packed with conditioners and moisturizers, but no nasty P’s: parabens, phenols, petroleum or phthalates. I am partial to the lip tints, but I don’t love lip gloss in general — I find most too sticky. This lip gloss actually wasn’t too sticky and the colors are nice — my favorite is Playful Nude, which is like your lips, only better and shinier. For me, it’s the lip tints that rock and I would definitely head out to Walgreens, where they’ve just arrived, and get one for yourself. For daytime, I like a hint of color and something that protects my lips. These do just that. My favorite is Ready Red, which gives just the right amount of red so you look healthy and put together but not overdone. All the colors are sheer and wearable and are perfect to stash in your purse for when you need a touch up during the day.

And at $6.50 for the lip glosses and $4.50 for the lip tints, the price is right! (In addition to Walgreens, you can purchase them online at drugstore.com.)

You Can Win Your Very Own!

Since Yes to Carrots sent me the whole line, I am sharing the wealth. One lucky reader will receive a full size lip gloss and a full size lip tint. All you have to do is send your name and snail mail to familyfavs@yahoo.com by Tuesday, May 5th at 11pm EST. We’ll randomly pick a winner and send you your very own to try!

Etc.

Between the swine flu and Arlen Spector there was so much to keep up on today!

I saw that Sarah Jessica Parker’s big “scoop” to E! News is that she confirmed Chris Noth, Mr. Big, will appear in the next SATC movie. Duh! Does that really even qualify as scoop when you state the obvious? I say no. And frankly, if the big plot involves a baby that dresses in designer duds, let’s all boycott the movie. The other night I saw the actress that plays Magda, Miranda’s nanny, on the subway platform and I was all excited. Ken was like, “Who?” (This is a general theme in our house. Last week I saw Chace Crawford, Nate from Gossip Girl, on 23rd Street, and Ken was nonplussed. I had to call someone who cared and share my news.)

Well, Austin decided to wake everyone up this morning at 5:15 because his covers weren’t right. Addison has a 104 fever so I desperately tried to get her back to sleep in our bed. But then I was up and couldn’t fall back asleep and then had to get to pilates for a 7:30am session and went about my day at work so I am TIRED! Tonight we told Austin if he doesn’t call out and fixes his covers himself there will be stickers and treats in his future. Hopefully bribery will get us everywhere.

With any luck, you will not be awakened in the middle of the night tonight, either.

Side of Yum

April 28, 2009

images4I started getting Food and Wine magazine out of the blue (I think it may have come free with a Harry and David order I placed at the holidays). It didn’t really seem like my thing, but there are actually some good recipes inside and there is an accompanying email that contains more recipes, many of them easily doable. I saw this roasted broccoli recipe and decided to try it — I modified it a little but it was a hit with both my household and our dinner guest. Easy? Check! Healthy? Check! Delicious? Check! That means it’s a go!

Ingredients

1 large head broccoli (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch florets, stems peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I didn’t bother to peel the stems)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts (I put a little more in)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (I used the juice from a whole lemon)

1 teaspoon minced shallots (I omitted the shallots)

Thinly sliced basil leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a large baking sheet, toss the broccoli and stems with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the broccoli in the oven for about 30 minutes, tossing half way through, until browned and tender. (I found you need to do this for only about 20 minutes or so.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat until light golden all over, about 4 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the shallot and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scrape the broccoli into a serving bowl, add the dressing, pine nuts and basil and toss to coat. Serve.

Italian Done Right

Ken and I really like authentic Italian restaurants that specialize in small, yummy plates and don’t just send out huge bowls of rigatoni and red sauce that the patrons proceed to inhale as if they haven’t eaten in weeks. Friday night we tried Bar Stuzzichini in the Flatiron disrict. Frankly, it wasn’t that crowded so try it before it’s gone! It’s a pleasant, large space but the real thing to go for is the food. They have all kinds of cheeses, meats, seafood and fried things like salt cod, artichokes and rice balls. Plus there are salads, pastas and other entrees, but you can truly make a nice meal from the appetizers. The orecchiette with breadcrumbs and cauliflower was somehow light and rich, and the arugula salad was just right. For dessert, the olive oil cake was spot on. Apparently on Sunday nights they do a family dinner for $26 per person, which is a great deal. The chef truly is gifted — I think it’s a tough time for the restaurant biz all around, so support the good ones when you can. (New York magazine actually voted it its Best Small Plate restaurant. It’s located at 928 Broadway at 22nd Street.)

Working vs. Stay At Home

This morning I was watching the Today show at the gym and they had a segment on about working mothers and Meredith asked if they thought there was still friction between stay at home moms and working moms. Yes! I practically shouted at the screen, as the working women concurred. Personally, I could care less if someone chooses to work or stay at home. But last year, there was a mother in Austin’s class who was a stay at home, and she would give tons of assignments out to the other mothers — every week was something else we had to do. I couldn’t take it — I was like, “lady, I do not have time to get ten different kinds of ribbon and bake a vegan cake,” but because I didn’t want to make waves, I kept my mouth shut. Then, I was at a birthday party over the summer and her name happened to come up. Suddenly, all of the working moms from the class started unloading about how they couldn’t take her assignments and how she tried to make them all feel inadequate. I was so happy I wasn’t alone! And I was even happier when I learned her kid was not going to be in Austin’s class this year. This year is so much better — we’re just all moms trying to get it all done.

Discount Alert!

If you need something from the Gap Online between now and April 29th, type in the code “FRIEND” at checkout and you will magically receive 20% off your purchase. You’re welcome!

Etc.

Now everyone is freaking out about the swine flu and I made the mistake of watching some C-Span this morning and it was the call in show where conspiracy theorists thrive and they are convinced this is a terrorist attack. So then of course I’m like, “Yeah! Why isn’t anyone talking about how this strain started?” So now in between loading my nanny up with Purell and washing my hands after every outing I am thinking about how this could be some sort of plot. If it’s not one thing that will get you it is something else. I am just so glad I planned our May vacation in the Caribbean and not Mexico. Although I bet between this and the out of control drug violence, you can get some really good deals!!!

I think a new Gossip Girl is on tonight. That would make my night. Because I had one of those “just missed the subway” kind of mornings.

RIP, Bea Arthur!

Until tomorrow…

Be True

April 27, 2009

True Boutique

True Boutique

When it comes to shopping, you have to decide between the department stores that pack a lot of merchandise in but not much imagination, or the smaller boutiques which often act like they’re doing you a favor by being open for business and are severely limited in terms of the available sizes and customer service. So I was so happy to be in NoHo one day last summer, wandering down Mott Street, when I came upon True Boutique. I had read about it in Lucky magazine. It’s a small space but it has a lot to offer, from designers like Cloak and Dagger, Cennes.V and Dalin Chase to THE BEST selection of denim in every size (0 – 16) and wash. My favorites are the James Jeans and Beija Flor, a line from Brazil that I discovered there. Katie Campbell, the owner, could not be nicer and really cares that her customers look good. She will get down on the floor and pin jeans to make sure the length is just right, because — here’s my favorite part — they do alterations for free! And most days you can go have lunch and come back and your clothes will be altered and ready to go. That’s service! You can tell she hand picks each piece and they support local designers with handbags, jewelry and lingerie as well. Their philosophy is that no matter what your size, everyone looks better when things fit correctly. It’s like going to shop with a friend in someone’s bigger, cooler closet. How fun is that?! Katie says her goal for True Boutique is that each customer should depart feeling good about both themselves and their fashionable purchases. I think we can all get down with that. (True Boutique is located at 278 Mott Street. You can also check them out at betruenyc.com.)

Actually, this is the best part…

Just for you, Family Favs readers, True Boutique is offering 20% off any purchase in the store. Just print out this page and bring it in or let them know you’re a Family Favs reader and they will take 20% off your purchase. As if you needed more incentive to try this great store out! For those of you not in the NYC area, if you’re looking for something special call Katie and maybe she can find you some great stuff over the phone and ship it to you. You won’t be disappointed!

Our First Contest

Have you entered our Yes to Carrots contest yet? What are you waiting for?! The fine people at Yes to Carrots chose me as one of a handful of bloggers to review their new lip tints and lip glosses. They sent me every color, so I am sharing the wealth! One lucky winner will receive one lip tint and one lip gloss — be the first on your block to try it out since they are just hitting stores now! 100% natural with no parabens…my full review will run this week but in the meantime send your name and snail mail to familyfavs@yahoo.com by 11pm on Tuesday, May 5th and you could be our first lucky winner! Good luck…

Weekend

The weather was fantastic, if not a little too hot! We headed over to the Hudson River festival and enjoyed face painting, arts and crafts and fishing. Nothing like fishing in the Hudson River! (ha ha) We used raw chicken as bait — and didn’t catch much of anything. But it was fun!

This morning was Addison’s star turn at the March of Dimes’ March for Babies. She joined Eli Manning on stage at the start and waved to the crowd. It was a huge turnout and I hope they raised a lot of money for a great cause. Backstage, we got a cute shot of the kids with the Superbowl champ.

Austin, Eli, Addison and her banana

Austin, Eli, Addison and her banana

He was very nice to them. Even though we are Eagles and Cowboys fans in this house!!

Now we are all praying no one gets the swine flu. Can’t they just stop letting people in from Mexico until this gets under control?

Wash your hands, people! Hope you all had a fab weekend…

Be In It To Win It

April 24, 2009

The good people at Yes To Carrots have chosen me as one of a handful of bloggers to preview their new lip gloss and lip tint lines, which are just hitting stores like Walgreens. (They’re 100% natural and 95% organic.) I will have my review next week, but starting now you have a chance to win your very own as I share the wealth. Email your name and snail mail address to familyfavs@yahoo.com by 11pm on Tuesday, May 5th. I’ll put all the names in a hat, and one lucky winner will have one tube of Yes To Carrots lip gloss and one tube of lip tint sent their way. I do and do for you people! Ha ha — good luck!
Tony Soprano Rocks Broadway
I went to see Gods of Carnage on Broadway this evening with a bunch of moms from Austin’s class. It was great — the acting really makes it. James Gandolfini, Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden and Jeff Daniels are all excellent and the play is very funny. It has become the hot ticket and in fact there were many, many people standing at the back. We sat by Harvey Fierstein. It’s 90 minutes with no intermission so it’s easy to go on a school night!
What’s the Single This Week?
Here’s Ken to tell us: “The Dead Weather is Jack White’s version of Frankenstein’s monster – he’s pieced together a band cribbed from other bands (The Kills, Raconteurs and, of course, his own White Stripes) to create a meaner, dirtier version of its offshoots. It’s the raw edge of Queens of the Stone Age balanced by some Zepplineque hooks, and it’s pretty addictive. As Mary Shelley once said, “Turn it up, bitches.”
Etc.
Am I the only one who’s worried about Pakistan?
It’s supposed to be a fantabulous weekend weather-wise here. There are a lot of outdoor festivals on the piers and in the parks so I think we will be hitting them. Ken’s aunt is coming to visit and Addison is doing a personal appearance with Eli Manning — I’ll write about it after it happens, and let you all know about her star turn. People keep telling her they saw her on TV and she is completely oblivious — it’s so great!
Enter the contest, subscribe to family favs by email so you get an update sent to you daily, and get out there and enjoy yourself!

Easy Being Green

April 23, 2009

images3It’s Earth Day so I thought I would jump on that bandwagon with some easy ways we can all care for Mother Earth. Because I know what you’re thinking, we all want to be greener, but do we really want to go that far out of our way? With these small things that multiply into a big impact, you don’t have to make that decision:

Unplug stuff when you go away: Even appliances not in use use electricity when they’re plugged in. Some things can’t be helped, like a refrigerator, but if you’re going away for a few days or more, take  two minutes and unplug things like the toaster, the coffee maker and the computer.

Switch to low-energy light bulbs: If you haven’t done this already, it really is a must. They’ve made improvements so you don’t have to get the squiggly kind — they’ve put a cover on so it looks like a regular old light bulb. And the color of the light is better, too. We bought some at Home Depot that the New York Times recommended, and they have been great. The only thing you have to get used to is they take a little while to warm up and get bright; it’s not instantaneous.

Ditch paper cups: I was using Dixie cups in the bathroom until I realized it was a colossal waste. I let Austin pick out his own plastic cup which gets washed and is as good as new. Saves trees — and money!!

Fix leaks around your home: It might be easier to ignore it, but call the plumber! According to the EPA, one leaky toilet alone can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day.

Use every last bit: So much about being green is really about being efficient with resources. I’m sometimes amazed at how cavalier people are about throwing things out. With things like lotion or facial cleanser, if you take the lid off as you get toward the bottom, you can get at least another week or two’s use out of it. And that end table that’s looking a little shabby, is there a way to finish it and bring it back to life? The more we can rework, reuse and wring every last bit out of things, the more resources will be around for generations to come. And that’s what matters.

Green Cleaning

Apparently Windex is not kind to the planet. As an alternative, a woman on the Early Show swears by this: vinegar, baking soda and water. I haven’t tried it, but I may as our windows really, really need a spring cleaning!

Etc.

Has anyone seen Rupert Everett? It’s disturbing. Tori at work sent me this scary link. I remember my friend in England had the biggest crush on him when we were teenagers. So sad and yet another reminder why it’s important to hire the right plastic surgeon!

What’s that? You want to receive an email right in your inbox when there’s a new post? You can! Just click “Subscribe to Family Favs by E-mail” at the right and sign up. Your subscription will start right away!

Hope you all had a fabulous Earth Day. I know I feel much more grounded. Ciao!

Road Warriors

April 22, 2009

I want to go and watch Gossip Girl so Ken is going to write about a great resource online for running shoes. I definitely agree with the recommendation — once I called for a pair of New Balance and he told me they were too expensive and that I would be happier with another shoe. Who says that?! Anyway here’s Ken:

images2“Do you run? Do you want to run? Do you like to wear top-of-the-line running sneakers while eating a bag of Doritos? Then check out RnJ Sports (rnjsports.com) out of Rockville, Maryland. This locally owned business has been around for 25 years, and they provide the perfect combination of great prices and expert advice on everything to do with running and tennis sneakers. With cost, I’ve found them to be roughly 10-20% cheaper than anywhere else, online or in-store, and they offer free shipping on orders above $65. Best of all, they’ll share their expertise with you to steer you in the right direction. The other day, I called them and asked about the difference between a New Balance and Asics stability sneaker. The owner explained that the Asics model outsells the New Balance model roughly 40 to 1, and that New Balance is now ranked below Asics, Mizuno, Saucony and others when it comes to performance and reputation among runners. He’s also deterred me from buying more expensive sneakers and has checked, unprompted, to see if older models selling at a discount were available before I went ahead and purchased the new model. That’s the kind of combination of honesty and expertise that’s always refreshing. So the next time you’re out on the jogging path beating the life out of your meniscus, make a note to check out RnJ Sports – you’ll get yourself a great-fitting shoe and be supporting a top-quality independent business.”

(Editor’s Note: I recommend going and trying the sneakers somewhere and then ordering them online, so you’ll know they fit ok.)

Etc.

We finally finished Austin’s recycling collage for school. Every project is like 5 minutes for him and then several hours for me to try and make it presentable. And he’s only in nursery school! (Sigh.) I’m dreading algebra 2 already.

Is it me or does this week feel long? Maybe it’s the weather, although it is supposed to be nicer toward the end of the week.

All right — time for TV. Hope you’re well!!

As Easy As It Gets

April 21, 2009

Doesn’t it suck to wake up to a weather report that says “100% Soaker” with a dark cloud to illustrate?

Anyway, today’s recipe just doesn’t get any easier, people. If you can’t find the time to do this, just resign yourself to take out because I don’t know what else I can do for you!

Magical!

Magical!

We are lucky enough to have a great fish store, The Lobster Place, in Chelsea Market at 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets. The fish is always fresh and the prices are good, and there’s a huge selection. (As an added bonus, the guy takes a lobster out of the tank and lets Austin play with it.) One of the other things I like is they always put a cooking tip on the sign listing the fish, which gives an easy way you can prepare it at home. Yesterday I decided to buy some catfish. A pound of it feeds my whole family. (I think people stay away from fish because they’re not sure how to prepare it AND they think it’s pricey. It’s actually really easy and quick to prepare and the trick on price is to go with cheaper kinds of fish, like tilapia and catfish, not sea bass and ahi tuna. Those kinds are more than double the price.)

On the sign it recommended sprinkling the catfish with Seafood Magic and sauteing. Seafood Magic? They sell all kinds of potions and seasonings there for fish, so I hunted down the Seafood Magic from Chef Paul Prudhomme and bought it along with the fish. (Chef Paul Prudhomme is a legend in Louisiana, and if you’ve never tried K-Paul’s in New Orleans, it’s a must. But be prepared to have your system rocked for like a month from all of the spices and richness of the food.)

Seafood Magic is magical! I took the catfish, rinsed it and sprayed it lightly with olive oil. Then I sprinkled the cajun seasoning mix on the front and back and put it in a pan with some olive oil over medium heat. After about five minutes I flipped the fish (when it’s white and more opaque) and cooked it about five minutes on the other side. For sides, I made garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed bite-sized pieces of zucchini with some olive oil and parmesan cheese. The fish was tender and tasty. I’ll definitely be using Seafood Magic again! (I paid $5.95 for a 2 ounce jar of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic at The Lobster Place, but I noticed online that most places sell it for $3.95. Check your local specialty market or go online to order.)

Dunkin’ Decaf??

Saturday was a lovely day so I decided to stop in to Dunkin’ Donuts and get myself an iced coffee. As I’ve written about on this blog, I don’t do caffeine, so I ordered an iced decaf. The worker told me they don’t have decaf iced coffee. What?? There are a few things wrong with this, the first thing being that I have gotten iced decafs many, many times at Dunkin’ Donuts, so were they just lying to me? Were they selling me caffeinated coffee and saying it was decaf? And the other thing is that at a place known for its coffee, why don’t they have iced decaf? I just left without purchasing anything, but not before I heard someone else order an iced decaf. Hello?? Maybe someone in product development should get on the stick.

Etc.

Congratulations to my old neighbor, the poet W.S. Merwin, who won a Pulitzer Prize today! I am honored to have lived downstairs from him. He once had a poem about our apartment building in The New Yorker. Then he moved to Hawaii…

Apparently they are bringing the apprehended pirate from last week’s ordeal to New York. Don’t we have enough problems here? Couldn’t, I don’t know, say, North Dakota take him in? Maybe he wants to catch a Broadway show…

I am watching a lightening show out my window right now — you can’t even see the Empire State Building because it’s so foggy. A miserable night — hope you’re snuggled up and cozy.

Space Saving = Tasty!

April 20, 2009

Today was one of those days where I really felt like Supermom. You know those days when you’re running around taking care of a million things and yet you still find time to bake cookies, make dinner for everyone and do a school project? That’s me today.

$19.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond

Anyway, Austin and I made chocolate chip cookies and it made me remember how much great stuff there is now that they make compact so it can fit into your kitchen without taking up too much space. If you’re looking for new things, look for these first as they’re truly space savers. And if you’ve got something that just takes up way too much room, you might want to consider replacing it for peace of mind.

First off, there are great silicone collapsible measuring cups by SleekStor ($19.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond). Because they store flat, they slip easily into any drawer. They come in fun colors too! (We have the red, as shown here.)

There are also measuring spoons that twist into a straight line, kind of like a Swiss Army knife. (No more looking for that darn 1/4 teaspoon!) The ones I have are pictured here. They’re called Swivel Measuring Spoons  and they’re by Chef’n.

$4.99 at most kitchenware stores

$4.99 at most kitchenware stores

Cooling racks are a must for any baker, so why not opt for some stacking racks? Fox Run Craftsmen makes a nice, well-made affordable set (pictured). They fit nicely into a narrow box but they fold out and stack to hold dozens of cookies.

$9.99 at ParkersPantry.com

$9.99 at ParkersPantry.com

Finally, Tupperware makes their famous storage containers in a collapsible version, under their Flat Out line. It allows you to fit several in the footprint of where one used to go. You can find them online at Tupperware.com, or you can find a Tupperware dealer in your area. (So old school!) There are various shapes and sizes and colors, and the prices vary.

Check the full line out at Tupperware.com

Check the full line out at Tupperware.com

These won’t cut down on the work involved with whatever you’re making, but somehow being more efficient with what space you have in the kitchen is delicious in itself.

Feelin’ Good

Finally, some glorious weather! We started off the weekend by volunteering in Central Park on Friday. We ended up scraping and painting a fence that goes around the perimeter of a playground at 93rd and Central Park West. It hadn’t been painted in five years and needed it, so finishing the big job in a few hours made us all feel great. If you’re ever looking to volunteer and would love to spend some time outside in the park, the Central Park Conservancy is always looking for volunteers in the park, doing everything from painting, planting, weeding and picking up garbage. The woman in charge told us that they’ve stopped using blowers for the leaves because they’re trying to be more environmentally-friendly. So they started raking Central Park in October and they are just finishing now, in April. Seven months of raking!! So if you have a couple of hours, go there and grab a rake for heaven’s sake.

Weekend Warriors

We had a fun weekend — Saturday we hit Madison Square Park and the Shake Shack with some of Austin’s friends from school and their family.The line is still ridiculous but the food is still fantastic.

Austin was craving paella so on Saturday night we hit La Nacional on 14th Street. (This kid is going to be a foodie like his parents.) I’ve written about this hidden spot before — we didn’t have a reservation and they were booked for the night, but they let us eat out by the bar, which was fine. I like going there because I get to practice my Spanish. Afterward we had dessert down the street at the Donut Pub. Always delicious! Seeing my kids on the stools, biting into their donuts with rainbow sprinkles, is adorable.

We had lunch outside today at Vento, on 9th Avenue and 14th Street. The outside space is great, they give the kids coloring books and crayons, but the food is very mediocre. A good every once in a while option when the weather is nice, I guess.

Hope you all managed to get out and enjoy the warm sunshine. What’s making you happy these days? Drop me a line and let me know — we can feature it in a future post. Share the good feelings!

Carrie On

April 17, 2009

If it’s Thursday, that must be music I hear…or maybe it’s just the ringing in my ears (make it stop!)…Here’s Ken:
“This week’s single is sort of like extraordinary renditions and chocolate bars with bacon in them. It’s not so much that I’m recommending it, as making you aware that something like this exists out there. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of Carrie Underwood, and her wide-ranging, elastic voice and wholesome good looks make her appealing to music fans and skankophobes across the country. But her latest single, a cover, feels like she’s forcing her way into our collective consciousness, instead of asking for our permission. It’s as if she’s performing a nostalgic bait-and-switch and making her the one you want to remember and associate with your formative high school years. And, frankly, I’m not too sure how good I feel about that. You can decide for yourself.”
Etc.
I volunteered to clean up Central Park tomorrow and I’m so excited it’s going to be a sunny day…Several years ago I volunteered in Spanish Harlem. We were cleaning medians and painting them and the benches there and we were wearing orange vests to make sure none of the Broadway traffic hit us. All of these people thought we were on some sort of work release program, and they would go by and scream things like, “Workfare not welfare!” It was so funny. I still laugh about it when I think about it.
My cough was gone for a few days and now it’s back! I might have to take ‘Tussin again. Ugh.
I had lunch at Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen today and I ran into an old friend — he came up behind me while I was talking to my lunch mate and started hugging me and I was like, “I am being molested in Schnipper’s!” It’s so nice to run into people you genuinely like who you haven’t seen in a while. And if you haven’t been to Schnipper’s, it’s a good, quick lunch in an area with not so great places to sit and have a bite. It’s in the New York Times building on 40th Street and 8th Avenue.
I’m tired! Very glad the weekend is almost here…Ken and I are trying a new restaurant tomorrow night. If it’s good I’ll report back. Then it’s all about the kids and great weather this weekend. Enjoy it!!