Stock Up On Summer

July 31, 2009

sun_07If you need shorts, a bathing suit, sandals, a beach chair — anything summer-related, now would be the time to buy it, before things are just too picked over. The sales are CRAZY. Make sure to check online before you hit the stores because there are often deeper discounts if you find a printable coupon. For example, Lord & Taylor has all bathing suits half off, and then their coupon gets you another 20% off. (I got a cute one for $27!) You can get a month or so use out of it this year, and then put it away for next year. Definitely good for kids clothes, as well. So make a list of what you need, check it twice, and then get out and save!

S-S-S-Single with an S

If it’s Thursday that must be Ken with the single of the week:

If you’re looking to enjoy the best of Canada and avoid all that messy Quebecois seccesionist rhetoric, flip on The N and watch Degrassi: The Next Generation. It’s tween drama mixed in with some low-grade moralizing, and has always been a favorite of mine. It’s the grit of love triangles, teen pregnancy, school shootings, online predators and broken friendships set among the charm of litter-free suburban streets, the country’s precious phonology (“I’m going oot with Craig tonight!”) and not-too-Hollywood cast. Now it seems like The N may be following the Miley Cyrus Marshall plan, plucking out Cassie Steele (that’s Manny to all you fans) for an all-out pop assault on media devices and big box stores everywhere. I’m psyched. [Thanks to FOFF (Friend of Family Favs) Tori for passing on this tune.]

Etc.

Apparently we are going to close out June and July without ever getting above 90 degrees — which has only happened once before in the history of weather record keeping! Weird, but I’ll take it.

Everyone’s buzzing about the fact that Vogue editor Anna Wintour wore flats (OMG) to a party in the Hamptons over the weekend. Apparently if you work at Vogue you are not allowed to wear flats to work. So this has been dubbed “flatsgate” — yet another reason why I could never work there, as flats are my life.

I don’t know what you’re doing this weekend but I’ll be rockin’ Sesame Place…yeah! We have a reservation for dinner with Big Bird and Elmo and Addison is PSYCHED! (“Dinner? Elmo? Oh my gosh!”) We’re going with another family from Austin’s class, so it should be fun.

Have a super fantastic wonderbar weekend!

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It’s the Humidity

July 30, 2009

SO I wasn’t going to blog tonight because I was on the Upper East Side at a lovely wine tasting, but I feel the need to give something, so I have a few random thoughts.

joan-red-cwbThey taped the Comedy Central roast of Joan Rivers in LA last week and to say it was raunchy would be an understatement. I’ve just heard some of the jokes and…wow. I think my favorite one I’ve heard was from Brad Garrett, who said that “Joan has f**ked more Jews than Bernie Madoff.” They’re running a somewhat sanitized version on August 9th at 10pm, and then they’ll run an uncut version late night soon after. Poor Joan.

You may remember that I previously blogged how sad we were that Maroon’s closed, a fantastic carribean/southern restaurant down our block. I’m still bummed, but a sign I saw today perked me up a little bit. Apparently Grey Dog is moving in! For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a really tasty breakfast and lunch spot with two locations in the Village — good coffee, omelettes, muffins…all very fresh and (for nyc) reasonably priced. I think it’s opening in the fall. Things are looking up!

That’s all I got in the tank. More tomorrow. I went out two nights in a row and I am missing the kiddies.

But I did have an excellent Graff Riesling at the tasting! We bought a bottle and they are delivering it tomorrow. Very nice people in attendance. If only Addison would sleep a little later tomorrow!

C ya…

Monkey Business

July 29, 2009

Julius Goes Mainstream

Julius Goes Mainstream

It’s hard to find cute characters for kids to wear that aren’t related to some billion-dollar money sucking machine. My kids aren’t really that into the Disney characters or the Sesame Street crew, and even if they were, I don’t think I could stomach them walking around with them on everything they were wearing. So then there’s Julius, a lovable monkey created by the illustrator Paul Frank. Because the stuff was sold mainly in Paul Frank stores (of which there aren’t many) and some department stores, the character hasn’t been ubiquitous. He has a whole posse of cutely illustrated friends, and he does cool things like drive race cars, skateboard, and generally retain his street cred. My kids have t-shirts, pajamas, socks, underwear, even belts. The only drawback has been the price, which while not crazy, wasn’t cheap. T-shirts trended toward $26, pajamas $45, and everything else was around there or in-between.

But now, you could say, Julius has sold out. But his loss is hopefully your gain. Paul Frank for Target has made its debut, and early signs are a big thumbs up. There’s not so much in the stores yet: raingear (Addison got herself a cute umbrella for $6.99), and my sister found some boys t-shirts ($7.99). Online I found socks for Addison ($9.99), and pajamas for me ($19.99), which I got in the mail yesterday and they’re very soft and wearable.

Online seems to be adding new stuff all the time (there are hoodies and tees now), so check it out. Will this flood the market with what was a cool niche icon? Probably. So be it. The only sad part is that when I did a little research online, it seems the licensing only came about when Paul Frank himself sold his stake and walked away from the company he created. Hopefully, Julius and friends are in good hands.

Check it out online here.

Really Isaac?

I love Isaac Mizrahi, but yesterday there was an article in the Journal that made me feel like he is spreading his talents too thin. Apparently he’s joining with Junior’s to launch a line of couture cheesecakes, to be sold on QVC. Really? Is this the best use of his design talents? According to the article, he’s thinking “tartan.” Plaid cheesecakes? No thanks. If his customers go too far down that road, they won’t be able to fit into his clothes, which would be sad indeed!

A Mad, Mad World

To promote the upcoming new season of Mad Men (premieres August 16th), AMC is pulling out all the stops — including a web site that lets you build an avatar of yourself in the Mad Men world. It’s so great! Check it out here.

That's me in the green dress...hilarious!

That's me in the green dress...hilarious!

Etc.

I had one of those go, go, go days from the minute Addison woke me up (6:02!)…I just got home at 9:30pm after meeting up with a friend for dinner. Ken is resisting putting on the air conditioner — I am all for fresh air but I can’t deal with sweating while I sleep. I need to be cool when my daughter wakes me up at the crack of dawn!

Hope you’re gettin’ jiggy with it!

Discipline that Works

July 28, 2009

mother-child-discipline-small-1My children are 5 and 2, so I definitely have a long way to go in molding them into the responsible adults I hope they’ll turn out to be. That being said, they are pretty well behaved and in seeing how others raise their kids (the good and the bad), and in reading different books and articles, I feel like we have a good strategy for discipline. (Yes, I’m definitely simplifying for the purposes of not having a million mile long blog post, but just these few things can make a difference.)

The first rule is consistency. This is so important. Because if something is ok one day and then not ok the next, how is a child supposed to learn what’s acceptable? This goes between parents, as well. If one parent lays down the law and the other doesn’t enforce it, kids will figure out pretty quickly how to skirt the rules. So it’s important to have constant communication with your partner about what flies and what doesn’t. Otherwise you’ll hear a lot of “But daddy said…”

If you make a threat, you must follow through. As a parent, you inevitably hear yourself at some point saying things like, “If you do x, you’re not going to do y.” (x being something horrible that they’re not supposed to do, and y being something fantastic that they have been dying to do.) Now, how many times have you said it but not meant it? We’ve found this “punishment” technique to be worthwhile, because they start to understand that their choices have consequences. They have the power to make whatever decisions they want, but those decisions may be bad ones. But if your threats have no teeth, children smell blood in the water and will go in for the kill since they know they have nothing to lose. That’s why the threats have to be realistic. “If you don’t pick up your room, you’re not getting ice cream with us tonight” vs. “If you don’t pick up your room, you’re never having ice cream again.” And then, if they don’t pick up their room, they really don’t get ice cream. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been with people and they make a threat and then completely don’t follow through. And then they wonder why their kid is acting out. Once poor Austin lost his ice cream privileges on a night we were headed to Otto. He had to sit there while everyone enjoyed their gelato. It was hard not to give in and give his little sad, pouty face a taste, but you can be sure that in subsequent battles, he knew we meant business.

Fire a warning shot. Kids are going to push and test you. That’s how they learn and grow. If you give them a warning, that should be their trigger to stop whatever offensive behavior they’re engaging in. We make it clear that this is the warning, and if you do it one more time, you’ll get a time out. And then, if they do it, time out it is. And we remind them that they got a warning that they chose to ignore. If they’re doing something that’s dangerous, we come down extra hard to make sure they don’t repeat the risky behavior.

Routines really work. We have had the same routine for bedtime for our kids since Austin came home from the hospital: bath, get dressed, read a book or two, bed. There’s no stalling, no negotiating, no fighting to make bedtime a two hour ordeal. We are always consistent, whether we have a babysitter or we’re in a hotel. And because the kids are comfortable with the routine and know how they’re supposed to act, it works. Every time we have a new babysitter, we always get the comment, “I can’t believe how easy they go to bed!” I don’t think it’s because they’re angels (far from it), I really think the routine works wonders.

Use time outs when you need them. Even if they’re little (like 2), a time out sends a physical message that they have done something wrong. This morning Addison decided to mash her banana all over the chaise in my bedroom. She got a time out. And yes, she cried. Crying is going to happen. Do you want them to cry for an hour? No. But they need to work their feelings out, and sometimes crying is how they do it. We always make sure at the end of a time out that they understand why they got one.

If you give an inch, they probably will take a mile. That may be ok with you, but know that if you tell them no and they whine enough to get you to change your mind, they will do it every time. These are smart little people! Bring them into your bed, they will expect to come in the next day, and the day after that. Tell them no about a toy and then sigh and say yes when they kicked and screamed? Good luck, sucker!

I find that there’s usually a reason when a child is acting out. Do they need attention? Are they over tired? This is a biggie — and if they’re tired, there’s no reasoning with them. It’s usually just better to cut your losses and get them to bed as soon as you can.

Be strong! That’s the bottom line. Know that while they may think you’re mean now, you are doing them a long-term favor by learning right from wrong. You’re not here to be their friend, you’re their parent. There’s a difference. For us, it’s not that our kids are perfect. There are trying days; there are days when we wonder if we’re doing the right thing. But these techniques seem to work, and so I pass them along in the hopes that they’ll help you, too. Every kid and every family is different, so take these and modify them so they work best in your house. Good luck!

On the Lookout

I never shop at Ann Taylor. I always felt it was too “career girl,” and not in a good way. But I recently saw some slides of their fall line, and things are looking up! Apparently they hired away the head designer from Club Monaco, and she is injecting some style into the workwear. Most dresses and things seem to be in the low $100s, which seems reasonable. Check out some looks here.

Etc.

These out of the blue thunderstorms are really annoying.

Austin and I went swimming after work — it was so fun and nice on a hot summer night. It’s not easy to make it home and get it together to do something after hours, but if you can make it work once in a while, it is like found time together. He was excited to go.

I can’t believe it’s almost August! Make a list of everything you want to do this summer now, so you make sure to get it done in the next month or so.

Until tomorrow…

Guilt-free Laundry

July 27, 2009

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Did you get ripped off with Dreft? I did! Everyone assured me I had to plunk down the extra money for Dreft when I had Austin. And then when I was in the thick of it, because Austin did actually have skin issues as a baby, I was scared into continually buying it. But then I got smart. All Free Clear is cheaper, and does the trick — there are no dyes or fragrance, i.e. nothing to irritate baby’s skin. Once I started using it for the kids, I realized how much synthetic fragrance was in our Tide Mountain Spring. Being brand loyal, I was slow to make the switch, but we did about a year ago, and I’m happy to report our clothes seem just as clean. Yes, there’s no “fresh scent,” but after a while you realize that freshness was created in a lab somewhere.

I also switched fabric softener dryer sheets. I find the sheets really do keep things soft and static free, so I didn’t want to stop using them. We like Bounce, and I noticed they offer Bounce Free, so you can continue the no dye, no fragrance mantra all the way through to the dryer.

“But I’m not sensitive,” you say? Oh but you might be! Skin changes over the years, so what might not have bothered you before may be irritating down the road. (Kind of like how allergies can haunt you at any time.) I figure why not beat my skin to the punch and remove any irritants proactively. Plus, it’s cheaper than Tide, too! (Available at Target, Amazon, or wherever detergent is sold.)

Batali Gets a B

On Friday Ken and I went for a late lunch to Del Posto, Mario Batali’s shot at fine, fine Italian dining. Ken never wants to go there because he thinks it’s going to be a rip off, but for restaurant week we decided to try it. Let me preface this by saying that we LOVE Mario’s other restaurants. Babbo would definitely be in my top 5, and Otto is fantastic with the kids. And granted this was the restaurant week menu and the servers aren’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for the restaurant week schlubs (like us), but I thought it was okay, nothing more. The space is very grand, the food was good, but I wasn’t blown away. (The only thing that blew Ken away was the price of the iced tea I ordered: $6!) A nice touch was the complimentary white peach bellini they served to start. And the bread was tasty. Everything else was fine. So I give it a B, and I’ll go back to Babbo.

Weekend

We went to head out for dinner tonight and we happened to venture downstairs in the middle of a monsoon, so we headed back up to order in. Addison was upset because she wanted to try out her new Paul Frank umbrella she got today. It was crazy lightening — I saw it hit the Chrysler Building from our window.

We were up in Connecticut for the weekend, visiting a friend of mine from college and her family. The kids had a great time — we tagged along to a birthday party that was space-themed, so they got to decorate their own spaceship cookies, make a rocket, take a swing at a space shuttle pinata and then take home a spaceship sippy cup. How fun! The best part is Ken and I felt a little funny going because our friends were invited, not us (but the hosts insisted they bring us), but our kids walked in like they owned the place. The poor birthday boy had gotten stung by a bee, so his right eye was completely swollen shut. Ouch!

It was good to hang out. West Hartford has a cute downtown and the houses are older and nice. We love the city but it seemed like a very nice neighborhood. And we always enjoy the backyard barbecue!

Hope you had a good one!

End of Week Mash-Up

July 24, 2009

M.O. in Thakoon (not the dress I wore today!)

M.O. in Thakoon (not the dress I wore today!)

I wore a Thakoon dress today — I felt very Michelle Obama-esque (she wears his stuff a lot). It’s so funny because it’s a very cool tie-dyeish print, and this is the second time I wore it and inevitably people stop me to discuss the dress. In fact the first time I wore it, a woman on the bus wanted to photograph it. (This became even funnier when I realized the woman owns this West Village children’s clothing store that I like — Dig Og Mig — where I have bought the kids a bunch of stuff.) Anyway I don’t really have much more to say on this except that sometimes it’s fun to wear an interesting print just to hear what people have to say!

We had dinner at Mesa Grill tonight — very good, as always, and the restaurant week menu featured tasty options and generous portions. Our waitress made sure to tell us that Bobby Flay himself had crafted the menu! We had jerk chicken taquitos with fry bread to start, then I had blue corn-encrusted red snapper and Ken had a stuffed chile rellano. For dessert there was a chocolate cherry layer cake and peach cheesecake. You still have another week to try and go!

If you miss restaurant week, or if you’re not in NYC, it’s worth it to hunt around on the internet or your local paper to see what specials restaurants are offering. The recession has really hurt eating establishments hard, so many of them offer great specials, especially during the week or on Sunday nights, to entice people to come. I just saw that Les Halles offers 50% off all bottles of wine on Monday nights, and Bar Artisanal in Tribeca offers a three course lunch for $21 all summer. And if you sign up as a fan of different restaurants on Facebook, you’ll be alerted to different specials. In smaller towns, the local paper often has 2 for 1 coupons for different establishments. I look at it as mutually beneficial: it’s a great deal for you, and you’re giving them needed business.

Single of the Week

Can it be Thursday already? Oh yes it is…here’s Ken:

You may find this hard to believe, but as an undergraduate at Cornell,  I had considerable exposure to two things that would shape my life: Jews and the Canadian rock group Rush. After graduation, I decided to convert and join the one group, and had I continued with the alto saxophone, I’m pretty sure I could have been a part of the other. This week’s single is a mash-up that brings the two influences back together again. On a sad side note, the Beasties will be postponing their new album and some tour dates because band member Adam Yauch will be receiving treatment for a tumor in his salivary gland. So let’s raise a brass monkey and hope for a successful treatment.

Etc.

I hope the Beasties are okay — I just saw Jay-Z is taking over some of their dates on the festival circuit.

Apparently Nordstrom Rack is coming to Union Square, where the Virgin Megastore used to be. I guess that’s a good thing. I find those stores a very hit or miss kind of experience. Mostly miss. Or else I find something and I feel like I could have gotten it cheaper on sale at the actual store. So we’ll see…

So happy the weekend is almost here! The weather is supposed to be iffy but we are going to visit some friends in Connecticut, so I’m sure we’ll have fun regardless.

Hope you have a good one — see you next week!

No Bake Fish

July 23, 2009

I like this recipe for the summer because it doesn’t require turning on the oven and it’s light but filling. (And healthy!)

Cod with Oregano Tomato Sauce

2 tsp olive oil

3 scallions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 can diced tomatoes (14 and 1/2 ounces)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 ib. cod, cut into 2 to 3 servings

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Stir together the oil, scallions and garlic in a large glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, poking a few holes in the plastic. Microwave on high for one minute. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano. Re-cover and microwave on high for three minutes.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Place the cod in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with wax paper (it will splatter) and microwave on high for six minutes. The fish should be cooked through. Spoon the tomato sauce over the fish and serve!

Dressing on the side?

I’ve made a few salads with dressing from scratch recently, and I’ve realized that when I pour salad dressing on from a bottle, I totally use way too much (most of which winds up unused on the bottom). Last night I made this dressing with sesame oil and lime juice and I was like, “there is no way this little bit is going to dress 5 cups of napa cabbage” and sure enough, it did. I think the key is not pouring it on top — you really need to take the time to “dress” the salad and toss it around.

Speaking of salads, Mark Bittman (love him) has a great article in today’s Times offering up recipes for 101 simple summer salads. Surely you can find one in here to float your boat! Check it out here.

Time to Write Your Councilman

I saw a statistic this morning that when cities add more sidewalks, bike lanes and parks, physical activity among its citizens goes up 48%. That’s incredible, and yet another reason why cities need to get away from being car-dominated. It’s funny, here in NYC it is such a walking culture — and now with shutting down Times Square and other “greening” initiatives, they are trying to allow people the space to move around. Even though the crazy lounge chair crowds are tough to take when you’re in a hurry, it’s the right idea! And the benefits of moving around are well documented: walking just a half an hour per day lowers a woman’s risk of heart disease up to 40%, and walking one hour daily cuts everyone’s risk for stroke in half. So lobby your community to put in more pathways and places you and your neighbors can get out and go!

Etc.

image2813501gMy DVR automatically records 60 Minutes — this past Sunday they ran a tribute to Walter Cronkite in its place, which I just watched. Such an incredible man! You can tell those around him truly loved and respected him. George Clooney was on and talked about him coming to his house in Italy. I was fairly young when he signed off the air so I don’t have too many memories of him, but of course so many historic events — Kennedy being shot, man landing on the moon — are indelibly linked to his delivery on the CBS Evening News.

I had the worst headache this afternoon. I think some days I don’t have time to drink enough water. That sounds crazy but it’s true! I’m not sure that’s what caused the headache, but maybe…

I had dinner with my friend Amanda tonight, who I haven’t seen in like 4 years. It’s always good to reconnect…she is building a home recording studio for John Legend so she had some good stories.

We made it over the hump day! Almost to the weekend…we can do it!!

Ready for my Close Up

July 22, 2009

Lots to choose from; stick with Neutral

Lots to choose from; stick with Neutral

A  couple of months back I was working on a shoot with Robin, the lovely makeup artist from The Rachael Ray Show. We were chatting about different products and I mentioned that for the first time I felt like my concealer was sinking into the tiny lines beneath my eyes. “Primer!” she blurted, and picked up a bottle of Make Up For Ever’s HD Microperfecting Primer. She explained you put a little bit on after your moisturizer or eye cream and before you apply any makeup. She then told me how MAC and others have primers, but she is partial to Make Up For Ever, which is handmade in France, they use all great ingredients, and many more reasons which I forget but she was VERY high on their products. Since any advice I have gotten directly from makeup artists has always been great (years ago one in London told me white powder in the inside corner of your eyes OR white liner inside of your lash line erases the effects of a hangover…genius!) I headed over to the Make Up For Ever store on 12th Street. They pointed me in the right direction (Neutral) and didn’t try to push anything else that was unnecessary. Though I’m not on camera, life is in HD, so I am ready! It’s lightweight, oil free and I’ve been using it for almost 2 months and I definitely see a difference: no more feathering and creasing. One squirt takes care of my eyes and the rest of my face, and it gives my skin another defense against free radicals. A little goes a long way, so at $32 for 1.01 ounces, I’ll get at least six months out of the bottle. (The Make Up For Ever store is at 8 East 12th Street in NYC. Also sold at Sephora.)

Rain = Opportunity

Everyone’s down on the rain, but I sometimes like a rainy day to force me to stay home and get a project done that’s been on my radar for a while. Cleaning out a closet, organizing a photo album, writing thank you notes, going shopping for new pillows — whatever it is, use a rainy day as an excuse to chill out and get it done. Then when the sun returns, you can get back outside, guilt-free.

Rumor Patrol

I heard three rumors recently (well, probably many more but I’ll only put three here): Le Caprice, one of my fav restaurants from London, is coming to NYC in the Pierre Hotel. This I can actually confirm. Wildly expensive — especially when the pound was super strong — the food is fantastic. (Note to them: it’s a recession, price accordingly.) We always liked it because it had a clubby feel, hopefully they’ll continue that here.

And the space on 6th Avenue and 22nd Street, that for years was a Barnes and Noble, is reportedly going to be a new Trader Joe’s.  I heard this from the guy who cuts my hair and the only thing I can find about it is that the Trader Joe’s people were in fact talking to the leasing agent of that space last October. I really hope it’s true! The lines at the one on 14th Street are a dealbreaker for me. Have you tried their Vodka pasta sauce? For a jarred sauce, it’s very good. I like to add cubed eggplant to it and serve with penne.

And finally, apparently Susan Boyle (you know, the never-been-kissed Britain’s Got Talent lady) did a top-secret high fashion photo shoot for Harper’s Bazaar and is being considered for the September cover. Hopefully she won’t have another breakdown if it happens…

Etc.

Today was free pastry morning at Starbucks, if you bought a drink. So I went over to get some reduced fat coffee cake and a tall skinny latte. I don’t normally buy baked goods there, and I realized today that their baked goods options stink! Everything is at least 300 calories, meaning that if you eat a scone and a coffee drink, you are over 600 calories and you could have had a whole meal! So I think their promotion backfired on me…

We switched Addison from whole milk to skim milk for her second birthday, and now she told me she doesn’t like milk. “Tastes bad, mom.” Maybe I should have eased her into it with 2%!

Just want to say thanks to all of my readers! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog and your feedback keeps me going with it.

Hope your week is going well…

Fill the Cup

July 21, 2009

During hard times, it can become imperative to make a “no unnecessary spending” rule in your house, to preserve any extra money to either cover existing bills or to put some money away for a rainy day. Totally understandable. And when it happens, often one of the big losers becomes charitable organizations. Because if people tighten up their wallets, they tighten them up for everything. Yet still there are people in need.

ha5.hMgssbXRs*26k8aSo here’s something to think about: the World Food Programme. Run by the United Nations, they are working toward getting food to all school children in the world. Yes, all of them. I first heard about the organization in detail on Letterman, believe it or not. They keep their overhead very low so that almost all of your donation goes straight in the red cup, which is what they use to feed all the kids the world over. In many instances, that red cup of food at school is all these kids will have to eat all day.

The organization has been around for 45 years, and now works in 77 countries. At any given time, there are 30 ships at sea, 70 planes in the air and 5,000 trucks on the ground working to save lives by providing food to the hungry.

Today I donated $50, which will feed one child for an entire school year. Just $50! Given the good fortune my children and I have, it seems like the right thing to do. You might think so too. If so, donate here at wfp.org/donate.

Quote for the Day

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”

— John Le Carre, English Author

You Must Do This

To me, it just doesn’t feel like summer unless we’ve had some sort of ice cream/frozen yogurt treat. Yes, you’re tired at the end of a long day. But it stays light longer, so grab a friend or family member and head out for a cone or cup tonight…ahhh summer!

I haven’t tried it yet but apparently the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream truck is pretty spectacular. It parks in SoHo and the East Village…check it out here. And those of you in San Fran, have you tried Humphry Slocombe? Their Secret Breakfast flavor (bourbon ice cream with corn flakes) sounds worth a trip. Check them out here.

Etc.

Addison had me up at 3am and I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I am functioning on fumes at this point.

The low humidity has been so spectacular lately, but apparently (if you believe the weather reports, and frankly, why should we?) our luck is about to change. Rats! It was good while it lasted. I easily must’ve saved close to $100 by not needing the air conditioner yet.

Hope your Monday was groovy!

windex_originalAustin and I were away this weekend and when we returned late this afternoon, I walked inside and sensed there was something…different. I walked into my kitchen and things seemed somehow brighter. I walked into my bedroom and things seemed somehow cleaner. Our fabulous views were that much more fabulous — it was like the Empire State Building was right next to us. And without being told I knew my husband had released us from the grime that had been weighing us down. Windex had wiped away the gloomy residue of a rainy, rainy spring and early summer. Free at last! The windows had been washed and it made me feel so much better. When they’re dirty I don’t think you can appreciate how much it obscures looking out across the sky, but once they’re clean you know what you’ve been missing. I told Ken he should do it twice a year; he shot me a look. You know the one — that, “Oh yeah like I have so much time to clean the windows” one. So we’ll see…

If you haven’t cleaned your windows in a while, I wholly recommend grabbing a bottle of Windex (the old-fashioned blue kind seems to work best) and setting aside an hour or so to wash your windows. It really makes a huge difference. And if you can get your spouse to do it, all the better…

Angela’s Ashes lives on

I was sad to hear that the author Frank McCourt died. I had the honor of interviewing him a few years ago when he was coming to talk at my company. We spoke some about his memoir (which, if you haven’t read Angela’s Ashes, is a great book) and being an immigrant here, but the bulk of our conversation was about his over 20 years teaching English at Stuyvesant High School here in New York City. I could tell he was such a committed and inspiring teacher, and because you really only get the best and the brightest at Stuyvesant, he truly loved challenging the kids there. So incredible that he touched so many people through his books and through his teaching. He will be missed.

Etc.

Austin and I Amtrakked it on down to Wheaton Park for the annual Noshfest family reunion. I have to say, I was not looking forward to shlepping down there but the park was fantastic for the kids. There was a carousel and a train along with several different playgrounds. I thought it was going to be hot and humid but it was a perfect day — no humidity, sun and just enough warmth (low 80s). Austin enjoyed seeing and hanging out with his cousins. For dinner we hit the Lebanese Taverna in Silver Spring. The food was very good, particularly the hummos. It was good for a large group because there’s lots of room to spread out. This morning we tried to go swimming but the pool at our hotel didn’t open til 10 (boo!) so we took Austin into DC to see the White House. I’m not sure what short-circuited in my 5 year old but the view of the flowers and fountain at the back of Barack’s house caused him to go into meltdown mode. So I quickly ushered him out of the crowded “locked down” zone around the place, in tears, as tourists from around the world stared. When I asked him later on why he had freaked out, he said he had wanted to go inside the White House. Oh brother.

So we headed to brunch at our cousins Elaine and Phil’s house, said our goodbyes and then caught the train back. Somehow we ended up in the quiet car. Ha ha!! That’s funny…

Then we met up with Austin’s buddies Sabrina and Chloe at Bleecker Park, their dad Randall showed up with a huge hard cast and told me how he broke his wrist sliding into second (ouch!), and then it was blackened catfish at Cowgirl for dinner where I almost punched a lady at the next table who kept giving us dirty looks every time Addison coughed and then said to her friend, “That baby keeps choking!” and made a face as if we, the stupid parents, weren’t doing anything about it. “She’s not choking, she has a cough!” I barked back, equally irritated by her meddling, the fact that my daughter had a cough AGAIN, and that I had been stuck in the quiet car with a five year old for 3 hours.

A full weekend, indeed!

Hope you had a good one…