End the Week with a Song

August 21, 2009

Our friend Matt was in from Australia so I’m getting a late start on the blog tonight (hi Liz!)…let’s get right to Ken and the Single of the Week:
End of Summer Song, Part II
When Malawian musician Esau Mwamwaya pairs up with a dude named Radioclit, you kind of expect the worst. But their collaboration – via the band The Very Best – fusing post-colonial pop with the traditional music of Malawi has produced one of the more genuinely uplifting tunes of the summer. Check out The Warm Heart of Africa here.
Keep Yer Trap Shut
Don’t you hate those people who always have to one up you? You know the ones — you talk about how you’re busy, and they tell you how they’re that much busier. You tell them about a frustrating experience at, say, the post office, and they barely wait for your story to finish before they tell you that they had a much more frustrating experience once. The next time someone does that to me I think I’m just going to walk away. I think that’s the most appropriate response. I cannot commiserate with these people. I just must walk away because they are so, so ANNOYING. (Sigh.)
It is so freakin’ sticky out — the humidity really does make the heat that much worse.
I have one more day of work and then I am off for vacation — it can’t come soon enough (please see previous paragraph about annoying people)…and that means Family Favs is going on vacation, too, unless I get some inspiration and feel like sharing. But I’ll be back with all new posts in a week or so.
Until then, enjoy life!

Fall Fling

August 20, 2009

Please take the time to enjoy the last few weeks of summer, but let’s not forget that fall and all the fashion that goes with it is coming soon. I think it’s my favorite season to dress for. It’s before it gets really cold out and you have to bundle up and ruin your look, and it’s cool enough to layer, so you can actually have a bit more style than spring or summer. With that is mind, here is what I am liking for fall:

For the Ladies

Only $18 at Arden B.

Only $18 at Arden B.

A multi-chain necklace. So cute, takes an ordinary t-shirt from boring to bling. No need to spend a lot of dough on these — I’ve seen them at all price points, so for under $50 you can rock the look. I’m partial to silver but there’s a lot of gold going on, too.

A boyfriend sweater. So comfortable! You know the one — v-neck, a little roomy, soft. I like a striped one or a solid natural color with jeans. The Gap has some nice ones for under $40.

$39.50 at The Gap

$39.50 at The Gap

Something grey. A sweater, some pants, a blazer…grey is a perfect neutral to go with black, white, or a nice plum. There are enough hues that anyone can wear it — if it tends to wash you out, go for a more charcoal grey.

For the Guys

Navy blue. A deep, dark, navy looks great as a sweater (preferably light cashmere) or a long sleeved tee. It feels, well, manly for fall.

A suede jacket. I’m thinking chocolate brown. Warm it up with a nice navy scarf. (See, it all comes together!)

An interesting T-shirt. I totally get it. Sometimes, you just want to go casual. To keep your t-shirt and jeans interesting, check out some of the ones Uniqlo carries. They have a store down in SoHo or you can check them out online. They’re doing a whole Japanese Manga thing, which is cool. You’re sure to find one you like — there are 124 to choose from here.

It really just takes a new piece here and there to spruce up your wardrobe and get it ready for fall!

Bloody Billboard

One of my employees sent me this. It’s disturbing, but apparently effective.

Bad Idea

Apparently Britney Spears has a new fragrance coming out, and it’s called, “Circus Fantasy.” Now, there are a lot of things I’d like to smell like, but a circus is definitely not one of them. Elephant dung? Trapeze Artists?  Clowns? Not exactly the scent I was going for. Good luck, Brit Brit.


I think I mentioned last night that my hand was on fire from cutting two jalapenos. So this morning I woke up and they were still burning! By the time I got to work, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had tried washing, rubbing oil (at my nanny’s suggestion), using a calendula salve…so I went online, and of all the remedies people suggested, the only thing I had access to at work was milk. So I went into the kitchen, poured a glass and plunged my hand in. I kept it soaking for a few minutes. Lo and behold, it worked! Next time, before I cut into the pepper, I’m going to coat my hand in oil. That seems to be the preventative trick.

Addison and I went out for frozen yogurt tonight and it was packed! Guess that’s the thing to do when it’s sweltering.

Hope you’re keeping cool!

No Fry Fish and Chips

August 19, 2009

I am all about light recipes, especially in the summer, but it also needs to be good, and filling for my better half. I recently made a baked version of fish and chips, and I thought it was pretty good. (Addison liked it too.) It’s easy to make and healthy, which makes it perfect for Family Favs.

Baked Fish and Chips

2 medium potatoes, cut into wedges

1/4 cup skim milk

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or white flour, your call)

1 lb. cod (or other white fish like flounder)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat one cookie sheet with cooking spray and place cut potatoes on. Spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. I like them crispy, so I baked for almost 45 minutes.

Whisk milk and mustard together in a shallow dish. Place breadcrumbs in another dish and flour in a third dish. Cut the fish into three or four servings. Place fish in flour and turn to coat, then in milk mixture to coat and then in bread crumbs to coat. Put fish into a baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10 – 15 minutes. You can serve with red wine vinegar on the side for an “authentic” taste, or plain old ketchup for the potatoes.


Banana Deals

I don’t know about you, but it kills me to pay full price at Banana Republic because I feel like stuff is always marked down or on sale. Now through Sunday, they’re running a promotion with Mad Men that if you spend $100, you get 25% off. It’s in stores only, and you need a little card, but I’m sure if you ask in your store they will give it to you.

That’ll Teach Him

Only in NYC: apparently a 10 year old had a lemonade stand in Riverside Park this past weekend, and she and her father got hit with a $50 fine, since they didn’t have a permit. Apparently when the commisioner of the Parks Department heard about it, he nixed the ticket, which is good. I’ve seen a lot worse things on the streets of NYC, and there were no tickets issued. Lemonade is the least of our problems!

Fashion’s Night Out

Vogue — you know, the magazine that depends on fashion for its existence — is sponsoring Fashion’s Night Out on September 10th in NYC and 13 other “fashion capitals” (wherever that is). The idea is to get people excited to shop again, and there will be celebrity guests and designers making appearances. I thought, when I first heard about it, that there would be great deals, too. But apparently no. Tory Burch was on TV this morning talking about it, and she said, “It’s not about that.” Well, guess what, it’s always about that, especially in this economy. So good luck!


As I write this my left hand is BURNING from dicing 2 jalapenos. I’ve washed them several times — I’m not sure what to try next to relieve it. We got them from our CSA and they warned us several times to be careful, they were hot, but I was too cavalier! I made salsa with some tomatillos we got, and it was my first time cooking them, and the salsa is very good and very hot. But perhaps the best thing we got this week was the most fresh and delicious basil — I made an awesome caprese salad. Simple and tasty!

I finished the wall art in the kids room. It was a lot of work. I am very happy with the finished product and Addison told me this morning that she loves it, so that’s all the feedback I need, really. It feels good to complete the project and check it off my list.

It was super hot again today. Now there is some serious thunder and lightening going on. I hope it cools things off a little. Until tomorrow…

Summer Cinema

August 18, 2009

000posterFor me, summer blockbusters are fine, but I like a nice, well crafted film to help me escape the summer heat. (There’s nothing like an over-air-conditioned theater on a 90 plus degree day.) 500 Days of Summer fits the bill. Well written, acted, directed, etc., the story is about the main character, Tom, and his 500 day relationship with Summer. The part that makes it more interesting is that the story is not told chronologically; you know what happened on, say, day 187 before you know what happened on day 11. And you know right up front that things don’t work out. The movie’s tagline tells you: This is not a love story. It is a movie about love. (As an added bonus, Zooey Deschanel, who plays Summer, wears the same shirt that I own in one of the scenes on the train. That alone is worth the price of admission! ha ha) My favorite part was a post-sex scene set to Hall and Oates’ You Make My Dreams. Very cute and funny.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives an excellent performance as Tom. You might remember him as the kid from Third Rock From the Sun. He also looks a lot like Heath Ledger, which was kind of creepy.

So when you’re done with GI Joe and G-Force and all of the rest of the blowing stuff up movies at the multiplex, make way for 500 Days of Summer. It’s a winner!

Dancing With The People You May Have Heard Of

The new cast of Dancing with the Stars was announced this morning, and I think “stars” is a little generous for some of these people. Ashley Hamilton, George Hamilton’s son? Mark Dacascos, The Chairman on Iron Chef America? Louie Vito, snowboarder? And my absolute favorite, Tom DeLay, former House majority leader. (He forgot to add “who resigned in disgrace” to his resume for the show.) I don’t watch the show, but I think of everyone on there, I’d have to pick Donny Osmond as the only person I’d root for. My husband would probably go with former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin. The whole things sounds like a bit of a mess to me, but I guess that’s what they’re going for.

Economy Brings…

In my ongoing following of how the economy is making some businesses more customer-friendly, we went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory this weekend and surprise, surprise, they introduced a children’s menu. It used to be that we would just order the kids a grilled cheese with broccoli to split, but now they have a whole host of options, all around $5/$6. And the really great bargain was that for dessert, the kids each got 2 scoops of chocolate ice cream with whipped cream on top, for $1! They loved it. They also had some specials, all priced around $12, which seemed like another nod to being more wallet-friendly.


I’ve heard Mad Men was great last night. I haven’t watched it yet. Hopefully I have time tonight. I’m all consumed with the project in the kids’ room, so the little TV I’d like to watch has taken a back seat.

I have a little left to do on my project in the kids’ room, and then completion!

We decided we were going to wait to potty train Addison until October, after we get back from a trip we’re going on, even though she has told us she wants to use the toilet for months now. She has decided she can’t wait, and every day she has used the toilet, twice today. She wants to be like the big kids! You can’t keep a good woman down, as they say.

Enjoy the week!

Do Something

August 17, 2009

imagesYou may have noticed that I haven’t said much about the health care debate going on all around us, in the usually quiet (for politics, anyway) month of August. This is mainly because I am flummoxed once again how the Conservative movement twists, turns and out and out lies to get people to go against their self interests. Do people really think the government is going to send a worker to examine everyone over 65 in the country and see if they should be put to death? (This from the government that doesn’t even have enough employees to investigate a peanut factory that is churning out salmonella?) Sounds crazy, but that’s exactly what one woman got up and asked President Obama about. Another woman got up and started screaming that she didn’t want the government to start running Medicare and ruin it. Someone explained to her that Medicare is already a government program. And these are from the people on the opposition who actually civilly ask questions. The rest are just there to disrupt the conversation and stop any sort of honest debate. Very productive.

Anyone who thinks we can do nothing and just let the system be is crazy. 46% of the bankruptcies in this country are due to health care costs. The fact that health insurance is tied to a job in a world where people no longer stay at any one job more than a few years at a time doesn’t work. Think about it, what’s the biggest fear for someone when they lose a job? Yes, loss of income, but no health insurance is right alongside it. What if we could eliminate that stress from every American’s life?

It should not be up to bean counters at a for-profit venture to decide what procedures you can and cannot get. It’s laughable how people are up and arms that the government might make these decisions with a public plan — the private insurance companies are already doing this, and if you think they have the good of the people top of mind, think again. Remember I said it was a for-profit venture.

If you haven’t read Obama’s Op-Ed in the Times today about the subject, read it for yourself here. Then decide where you stand in the debate. And speak up. Because if it doesn’t get passed this time, there might not be a next time to make your voice heard.


Austin is away at his grandparents, so we are a one-child household once again. We miss him! But Addison is loving it. It’s actually really funny to watch. She doesn’t have to worry about anyone taking her toys, pushing her down, or generally cramping her style. Exciting!

I am doing a project in Austin’s room while he’s away, and I want to have it done when he gets back. It’s a whole city scene on his walls. I am about half way done, so I feel good about my progress! It’s good to have a project to keep me occupied.

The weekends go so fast. It’s a little sad. I actually like working and generally don’t mind the routine, but when it’s hot out I would just like to head out to the beach for a month and do nothing but sit on the sand with some good magazines. Oh well.

Hope you had a great one!


August 14, 2009

Before we get to the single of the week, here’s a rundown of what’s on my mind as we end the week:

If you haven’t heard, Dick Cheney is writing his memoirs and apparently the gloves are coming off in regard to his old boss, Dubya. This outta be great!

SEPTEHell might have frozen over, because apparently Anna Wintour, the editrix of American Vogue, is going to be a guest on Letterman on Monday night, August 24th to promote the documentary coming out about Vogue, The September Issue. She is chilly, to say the least, so I cannot wait to see her go toe to Manolo with Dave.

Speaking of Dave, you’ll recall that I predicted several weeks ago that Letterman would beat Conan in the ratings once the shows went up against one another. That came true, and now, to add insult to injury for NBC, Dave’s re-runs last week beat Conan’s new shows! That’s pretty bad for the Tonight Show.

On a sad note, when it was announced that John Hughes had a heart attack while walking down the street in NYC, no one ever said where he was. Well, someone figured it out, and it was on 55th Street, right down the block from my first apartment in the city. The film critic who solved the mystery set up a 16 candle tribute there. Did you see Molly Ringwald’s Op Ed piece about him in the Times yesterday? I was surprised they hadn’t seen each other in almost 20 years. He really did retreat from Hollywood.

End of Summer Song, Part I

Here’s Ken with the Single of the Week:
Look at yourself – you’re snapping at the kids, helping yourself to another glass of wine…alone, and obsessing over your misshapen ass. What you need is an end-of-summer song – something smooth not nasty, soulful not poppy, misogynistic not workplace-appropriate. Check out Wale’s “Pretty Girls” (best line: “My Prada say Prada and they Prada say Fila.”), grab the kids and shake that trapezoidal bootie.
I cannot believe football is on already. Make it stop!! The Yankees need to make it to the World Series first!
Austin had a birthday party today and he got his face painted like Batman. It was all going so well until he was over tired at dinner, and he started crying because Addison had his G-Force trading cards, and the paint on his face started to run, so he tried to wipe it, but he made it even worse. So then I had to walk home with a kid who looked like he was in blackface.
Hope you’ve all got something fabulous planned for the weekend!

I don’t want to be alarmist, but the swine flu does have me concerned. The fact that so many cases have occurred in the warm weather leads one to believe that come fall and winter, it really will be out of control. I just hope the cases stay as mild as most seem to be.

If you ask any doctor, they’ll tell you that your best defense is to wash your hands. A lot. So definitely do that. And I also think we should all stock up on hand sanitizer now, rather than waiting for the first huge outbreak, when everyone will want it and there won’t be any left on the shelves. Buy some for yourself, for the office, and for your kid’s backpack. Tell them to use it throughout the day, particularly before they eat or drink anything. I carry a small bottle around in my purse (if you do this, keep it in a Ziploc bag, because it can leak when closed) and take it out in restaurants if the kids put up a fight to going and washing their hands. They make really small bottles (Purell makes a little six-pack) that are perfect to give to children, since they won’t weigh them down and could easily fit in their jeans’ pocket. When I’m done with my workout, the gym has some on the wall, so I rub it on before leaving to help get rid of all the germs. The indoor playground we belong to has it too, so I encourage the kids to use it before we leave. Basically, I think sanitizing needs to be a part of our everyday lives. Stay well!

Cast this guy, pronto

I mentioned I took Austin to a play on Sunday. In the Playbill, one of the actors had the funniest bio entry. You know how usually they list their previous credits and talk up how wonderful and in demand they are as actors? Well, this guy, Jason Dula, the understudy, had this to say: “JASON DULA is sometimes in this show. He has been in some other shows (Google him). He would like to have been in other things (they were not interested) and would like ot be in some other stuff down the road (also wants to be a teacher and live on a real farm someday). Jason graduated from NC School of the Arts (barely) and is the successful manager of way too many fantasy sports teams (just ask his girlfriend). Much love to all.”

Hilarious! I laughed out loud in the theater. Jason, if acting doesn’t work out, there’s always writing!


The weather is so odd today. Seemed like it was going to rain, but it didn’t. Was muggy this morning but now feels downright chilly. Wind blowing strongly. Great sleeping weather but where is the summer??

Gotta go and disrupt a Town Hall meeting somewhere. (Yeah right…)

See ya!

Lofty Offerings

August 12, 2009

232280_6705_category130x169I believe I wrote previously about how I never shop at Ann Taylor, but I’m thinking of checking it out since they got a new designer (from Club Monaco) and the few looks I saw seemed cooler than what I’d ever seen from them. Well, apparently they’ve updated their Loft stores’ merchandise, as well. I’m not sure what made me walk in to the Loft store at the Short Hills Mall except that I was alone (a rare occurrence) and I pointedly told myself not to shop for my kids, since I had the luxury of being able to try stuff on, and this was the first store I saw. I was shocked that there were a few things I wanted: comfortable tops with feminine details like shirred collars and ruffles, linen jackets that would be perfect over a t-shirt for work, and an army green trench that had all kinds of interesting details. (This last trench is sold out everywhere in the NYC area, so I have them trying to track it down at a store around the country.) Everything is done in neutral colors so you can pair it with just about anything. Some of the designs still aired on the side of fussy, and some of the shirts were a little too thin (i.e. cheap), but overall, for the low pricepoint, it’s worth checking out. Most things are under $100, and check online if you can find a coupon. I did and scored a 30% off friends and family offer!

Wall Street = Irritating

I try not to get too bent out of shape when Washington does things that I think are stupid. The whole Hank Paulson/Goldman Sachs thing seems remarkably fishy, but maybe he had a reason to be in contact with them hundreds of times while he was letting Lehman go under. What do I know? Well, here’s what I know: we as taxpayers bailed these guys out from the brink of destruction to the tune of several hundred billion dollars, and now they want to do whatever they want to do, pay people whatever they want to pay them, and generally not be bothered with any sort of regulation to stop them from getting the whole world into the economic mess they got us into in the first place. Guess what, that smells. And if Obama can’t do anything about it, the guy who ran on the notion that he was going to change Washington, then the system is beyond broken. You know what Wall Street? The government didn’t bail out my industry, and people lost their jobs. They didn’t bail out thousands of other businesses who went under and left their workers unable to pay their bills. So sorry if we’re not empathetic to the fact that your executives can’t be paid more than a few million a year. Is a job on Wall Street really worth more than a job at the DHL plant? You should be thanking your lucky stars that you were bailed out at all, and your firms were saved along with your jobs. Without us, there goes your club membership in Greenwich. So the next time Congress suggests regulations to protect consumers from predatory lending and generally tries to safeguard against our entire economy collapsing once again, please just shut up.


Busy week at work…by the time I get home and hang out with the kids, it’s so late for them to go to bed and then I still need to eat dinner! Oh well.

Maybe I’ll go disrupt a health coverage town hall with all my free time. (Freaks.)

Hope your week is going well!

Mad For It

August 11, 2009

s3-keyart-789On Sunday. August 16th, it’s back: Mad Men on AMC. If you watch it, you’ve been excited for months. If you haven’t watched it, you are truly missing out and I am telling you early enough in the week so you can see if your cable or satellite company has any episodes on demand, or you can run out to the store now to buy the dvds of seasons one and two, or, at the very least, check out this site, watch last season’s finale and familiarize yourself with all things Sterling Cooper. (That’s the ad agency where the main character, Don Draper, is the creative director.) New York magazine did a handy overly simplified synopsis of the first two seasons. (Click here.) This upcoming season is reportedly set in 1963, and they’re going to deal with the Kennedy assassination and everything else those turbulent times had going on.

I am not one of those people who thinks every show I watch is great and then try to push it on people. I am also not one of those people who watch a lot of shows. In fact, I didn’t start watching Mad Men until last summer, right before season 2 started. I had heard about it, heard it was fantastic, some people whose opinions I respect liked it, so I watched season one on demand. I was hooked. The quality is incredible — every episode feels like a one hour movie. The acting is terrific, the writing authentic, the sets and costumes so beautiful in their art direction. There’s so much smoking that I feel like I’ve taken it up when I watch. Recent reviews I’ve read of season 3 call the show “the best on television” and “genius.” Doesnt get much better than that.

It’s on AMC,  Sundays at 10pm. Of course you can dvr it and watch it whenever you want. I’ve given you fair warning, people. Get up to speed and watch — it really is television at its best.

No lettuce? No problem!

I’ve been trying to bring my lunch to work here and there, mainly because I felt like my portions at lunch in the restaurants were too big. So I made a turkey sandwich this morning only to find we were out of lettuce. I like a little crunch with my deli meat, so normally I would sub fresh spinach. None of that either. So I went British and thinly sliced some cucumber onto the turkey. Delicious! Try it the next time you’re low on greens — or just for something different!

Speaking of bringing lunch — I found a great solution to needing salad dressing on the days I bring a side salad with my sandwich. Hidden Valley Ranch makes a light version in single serving packs. Works over a salad or as a dip with some carrots or celery. I found it at Target — you get 6 for about $3.50. (They’re a little more than a single serving for me, but I tape it closed, refrigerate it and use it the next time too.)


Steamy today! Over 90 degrees means you can feel it, for real. (Especially on the subway platforms.) Maybe the guys who work out at my gym in jeans can give it a rest for a few days. (Isn’t that gross?!) I was going to make chicken with pesto sauce for dinner but I don’t want to turn on the oven. I think we’ll have some salmon, cooked in the microwave.

The big news in our house is that Austin seems to have been bitten by a spider. This is really crazy because we live on the 18th floor in downtown New York City. But anyway, his ankle has swelled up and is black and blue, he’s got all this blistering on the back of his ankle that is leaking clear fluid, and it just generally looks disgusting! The doctor said it will take a week to go away. As he would say, awesome!

Hope you’re all arachnid-free!

Emergency Care

August 10, 2009

Before we get to it today, I just want to remind everyone that sleeveless t-shirts and white socks pulled up to your knees with black sneakers is never a good look. For anyone. Ever.

Make it part of your emergency kit

Make it part of your emergency kit

Now that that’s behind us, this is a great tip for one thing everyone should keep in their medicine cabinets, just in case you or someone you love might need it: QR Quick Relief. If someone has a serious wound, you pour this powder on it and it stops bleeding instantly. It’s kind of like a super styptic pencil, in powder form. We discovered it when my daughter’s birth mark on her chest started bleeding out of the blue last year. Of course it was when we were about to leave on a 2 week trip to Europe. I took her to a specialist who said that the biggest thing we had to worry about was excessive bleeding, so we should get some QR powder. I had never heard of it, and she said that most people haven’t, but everyone should keep it on hand, just in case they need it. Even if someone has to go to the hospital for stitches, this powder will help to stop the bleeding so you can get them to the ER without losing a lot of blood. It comes in a kids version, which is safe for kids of all ages. We never ended up needing the powder on our trip, but it provided peace of mind, and now we have it in our medicine cabinet, should anyone ever need it.

Apparently it was originally developed for the military, and hospitals all over use it. They say it doesn’t sting and it’s hypoallergenic. It’s not super easy to find — we got it at Bigelow pharmacy in the Village, or you can buy it online here. Runs about $8.50 for 2 applications. Worth the investment!

Click, Clack, Moo-velous

I took my son to some free Theatreworks children’s theater at the Lucille Lortel Theater on Christopher Street (between Bleecker and Hudson) this afternoon. The production was Click, Clack, Moo. Some of you may be familiar with the book. It’s a great show — 60 minutes of songs, jokes and a good time, for free! I’d recommend it for kids 4 – 8. Babies and strollers aren’t allowed. They start giving out tix one hour before showtime. Maximum of 4 tickets to each adult. I’d say show up about 1 hour and 15 minutes beforehand, especially if it’s a Sunday show. For showtimes and general information, click here. It’s interesting to note that one of the biggest donors to Theatreworks is Target. Yet another cultural sponsorship for the big box chain — so I feel that much more justified in giving them all my diaper money!!


This was our first weekend in NYC since mid-June, and we packed a lot in. We renewed Austin’s passport (under 16, both parents have to show up with the child, so it was kind of an ordeal), Ken and I went out to dinner at Braeburn in the West Village (very civilized), the kids hit the water park on 23rd Street, I headed out to NJ for some shopping, we went uptown east for dinner at Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality (not bad), then hit the Guggenheim for the Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibit. (I love FLW’s work, but I was kind of disappointed in the exhibit. I think it’s much better to go to one of his projects rather than look at some plans or models.) My kids loved climbing to the top and looking down at the spirals below. I got a massage, we ran some errands, hit the theater and went out to dinner at Good in the Village (tasty). Phew!

Now it’s back to the grind…hope you had a good one!