Good News/Bad News

November 30, 2009

First, the good news: I realized today that I can once again fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. This is cause for celebration because 1) I can fit into my jeans from 10 years ago and 2) after birthing 2 wonderful kids, not only is my weight on the scale back to where it was before their seeds were planted, but everything seems to have redistributed itself back where it belongs, if you know what I mean.

Now, the bad news: Iran has ten new sites where it can enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb in defiance of, well, just about everyone. So does anything else really matter?

Oh, I’ll just bask in my jeans glory a little longer…

And to keep all of my jeans and other pants neat and tidy, I rely on these space-saving hangers, which if you find yourself in a many-trousered way, you should give them a try. (This picture isn’t exactly the hanger I like, but I can’t find the exact one I bought, but it gives you the idea.) It essentially lets you hang five or so pair of pants downward, so you can fit more into a small space. I buy them at Bed, Bath and Beyond — a nice metal one runs $6.99. I have several and I do them by “type”: all jeans on one, all black pants on one, all cropped pants on another…you get the idea. It really is one of the more efficient (space-wise) things you can do in your closet.

He’s Just Not That Into This Movie

It takes a lot to get me to the movies — between the $14 ticket price, the $60 babysitter penalty, and the fact that you can’t really talk to one another there (oh, ok — maybe that last one is a good thing), I just can’t motivate to see 99.9% of the movies that come through. As for DVDs, well, I usually can’t stay up to make it through. But one night over the long weekend my mom, sister and I watched He’s Just Not That Into You, a movie starring a lot of people you know (Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Connolly, Justin Long, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Connelly) that just didn’t do very well. It got middling reviews so I really never thought about it, but my sister had gotten it from Netflix so we gave it a whirl, predisposed to not like it. “Low expectations,” my sister said, laughing. And you know what? It wasn’t too bad. It’s definitely a chick flick — don’t even bother to ask your husband or boyfriend to watch — but if you can grab a friend or family member who appreciates a good c.f., I’d put it in the above average. I mean, it’s no Love, Actually, but it’s a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. (The most implausible thing about it is that all of those good looking people would live in Baltimore…sorry, Baltimore.)

Etc.

Isn’t it great to have a long weekend? Oh yes it is. We had a lovely Thanksgiving — my favorite part of the day had to be the THREE HOUR NAP I took. Is anything better than that? So refreshing. They woke me up to come downstairs for the big meal and I just felt so much more present after getting some rest. Scary what little to no sleep will do to you.

I was happy to hear that no one was trampled to death on Black Friday. Maybe the recession has made people realize cheap crap is not worth dying over. Now if we could all just find out what really happened to Tiger Woods.

Nice to spend time with friends and family. The kids got to hang out with their little cousin, so they enjoyed it. Hope you all had a great one! Keep the holiday feelings going right through the new year…

Giving Thanks

November 25, 2009

I believe I’ve mentioned before that many nights we ask Austin the question, “What are you grateful for?” before bed, and he comes up with at least one thing that he’s grateful for that day. Sometimes it’s a predictable toy or sweet treat he got to eat, but other nights he talks about being grateful for being able to play with his sister, or for living in New York City. It’s a great exercise if only to teach him about the meaning and importance of being grateful, and feeling fortunate.

With Thanksgiving upon us, you might want to engage in an activity like this around your turkey table. Go person by person and have everyone state one thing that they’re thankful for. It’s a great way to remind people what’s most important to them, and it can spark some interesting conversations. Health is always big on my list, since without it, everything else is kind of irrelevant.

And if it’s not something you feel you can introduce at your Thanksgiving celebration, maybe try it yourself, before falling asleep. It’s a great way to end the day by focusing on something positive, and maybe even a bit inspiring.

Single of the Week, Three Days Early

Due to the holiday, Family Favs will be silent and eating pumpkin pie the rest of the week, so here’s Ken now:

Eat this, Boston. Tokyo, your crowds make you one big fire hazard. Philadelphia? More like No-thrill-adelphia. The sun has set on London. LA, call us when you’re solvent. Suck it, Chicago. Sao Paulo, do you even have running water? Jakarta? Why are you even on this list?

This island shows you how to do it right:

Little Cabbage Heads

I never really liked brussel sprouts — but Ken always did. And once in a while he would order them at different establishments. I would taste them and frankly, they weren’t half bad. So last week we got some from our CSA, and they come on these long stalks. I had never made them before, but I was up for the challenge. I plucked them, cleaned them and then simply roasted them with olive oil and salt. Delicious! I’d recommend them as a side dish for your Thanksgiving meal.

That night we took the kids and headed out for dinner at The Smith. The kitchen was nice enough to send out a complimentary dish — of brussel sprouts! Of all the days. Ken told me mine were better. I thought so too. But we appreciated the gesture!

Etc.

I love how everyone is trying to make a big feud out of the Martha Stewart comments about Rachel Ray. (Basically she said that the perky Rachel is a hack who recycles old recipes and is no threat to her.) On some level, you have to love that Martha says exactly what she feels. No bones. Which is so rare in public life. And kudos to Rachel for letting it roll. Can’t we all move on to…

The continuing Adam Lambert fallout from his American Music Awards performance. Apparently Good Morning America cancelled his Wednesday appearance, thinking it was too obscene for morning television. But CBS seems to be ok with it, because now he’s booked over with Harry Smith and the gang. Don’t tone it down Adam — alienate everyone!

If it’s not raining tomorrow I’m going to take Austin to watch the balloons for the Macy’s parade getting blown up on the Upper West Side. That and hot chocolate could be a fun afternoon!

I hope you all have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving filled with all the side dishes you love. I’ll be back next week with more fab recommendations and thoughts on the world around us…ciao!

Yes We Do Have Banana

November 24, 2009

Oh, the current woes of retail. In this economy, people just aren’t spending as much, yet you’ve got to stay ahead of the trends, lest your customer base tire of you. It’s no longer enough just to carry merchandise. Shoppers are looking for a whole consumer experience.

Disney is currently working with Apple to redesign its retail experience. Each Disney store will apparently get a $1 million high tech makeover…that’s a lot of Mickey. And Buzz. And Tinkerbell. One of the first is supposed to open in Times Square next year.

Banana Republic is also looking to change its shopping experience — they’re calling it a “concept store.” Some of the upgrades include checking out in the fitting room — while you get back into your clothes, an associate rings up your purchases. And if they don’t have the item you’re looking for, in-store computers will track it down and ship it to you for free. It seems the 21st century is all about customer service. One can only hope…There are five of these stores already open. The one in Las Vegas offers concierge service; the one that opened this month in SoHo has an entire second floor of men’s offerings. (The former men’s Banana down Broadway has reopened as a Gap.)

Now if they could just get people buying again…

Shock Us Harder

I haven’t watched the American Music Awards since I was like 14, but they were on last night and I only know that because one of my Facebook friends posted that Adam Lambert‘s performance was “disgusting.” Intrigued, I checked it out on You Tube. Clearly he was going for shocking, but I wasn’t shocked. Although I did find it interesting that when he started sucking face with his (male) keyboardist, what had been a tight shot suddenly became a very wide angle pull back. At the end of day, I just don’t think the song is that great. That was the most offensive part to me.

(I was going to post a link to the offending clip, but Dick Clark had to go and have all of the clips removed from You Tube, so I can’t embed it. But search for it yourself — I’m sure they couldn’t have taken them all down.)

Etc.

Apparently Beyonce was in London this weekend and dropped $33,000 at Harvey Nichols. I’ve been to Harvey Nicks many a time, and that just doesn’t seem so crazy to me. I mean, one Alexander Wang bag and you’re off and running…

Addison was feeling a little better today, so that is encouraging. As long as I’m not scooping up vomit with my bare hands, I’m happy.

This is one of those weeks that feels long even though it’s short, because everyone wants to just get to Wednesday and take off for the long Turkey Weekend. In due time, I guess.

See you tomorrow!

Replacement Weekend

November 23, 2009

I saw Will Arnett in Buy Buy Baby this afternoon. He was buying a little Joovy play yard and various other baby necessities, presumably for Archie, his son with wife Amy Poehler. I find him hilarious (on 30 Rock and various other comedies) and for a split second I thought about telling him that, since we also have a friend in common, but then I figured the poor guy is defenseless in Buy Buy Baby and probably just wants to get what poor Archie needs and get the heck out of there. So I moved on to the portable toilet seats.

I was there because this became the weekend of replacing things that I had but had just gotten wrecked, stopped working, and/or were just plain old. And really, is there nothing more annoying than spending money on things that you already spent money on?

Padded for Comfort

So first up was a new toilet seat for Addison, and that potty-trained tush of hers. The one we had from when Austin was a babe was a little grody. Virtually every one Buy Buy Baby carried had some sort of character or logo on it. I much prefer something more understated, so I went with the Contoured Cushie Tushie seat by Mother’s Helper, with a few ducks on it. I like that it has a hook for easy storage on the back of the bathroom door when it’s not in use. ($9.99)

Next up were some new mattress pads for Addison’s crib. All of hers had been ripped to literal shreds, which is very disappointing considering we’re not doing anything more strenuous than washing them weekly. The truth is, although it’s something that I’d like to skimp on since it’s not exactly front and center, you really need to buy decent mattress pads so you’re not back to buy another one in a few months. Sealy makes a decent one for $19.99.

Then, in perhaps the most annoying replacement story of the weekend, we had to get a new mattress for Addison’s crib. Not exactly what I was planning to spend $175 on this weekend. (We discovered that the other one was ripping apart and leaking its innards when both of my kids projectile vomited last night, but I’ll spare you the story of me picking chunks of mussels and red velvet cake from their sheets so Ken could take them and wash them. OK, maybe I didn’t spare you the whole story.) What I learned is that innerspring is a little better for older kids, since it’s a little less firm than foam. Many people think you should have an organic mattress. I did not get one, as they started at $350 and I’m not entirely sure what it gets you since there’s a mattress cover and a sheet between the kid and the mattress…but I’m sure many people would disagree.

Microplane Paddle Graters

In the kitchen, I made a zucchini frittata for breakfast on Saturday, and realized that my grater was cracked. So I headed over to Williams-Sonoma and picked up a new Microplane Gourmet Paddle grater. I think they make the best, easiest to store graters. I have a zester from them that is excellent, too. I find the paddles work just as well as the box graters, but take up much less space. (Most run around $16.95)

Then I had a lovely stainless steel aerosol container to spray olive oil in a fine mist. It stopped working. When I told the woman working at Williams-Sonoma that I had bought it there and needed a replacement, she said, “Oh yeah, those never worked.” Which scared me, because then why were they selling it? I bought a new Orka by Mastrad brand, which seems to work so far. ($15.95)

Then my hand held milk frother had bit the dust. It had been an Aerolatte and frankly hadn’t gotten that much use, so I was not going to buy the same brand again. Williams-Sonoma carries one by Primo, so I decided to go with that. I haven’t tried it out yet. I’ll have to report back. ($19.95)

So hopefully now I’m set for a while and everything will stay in working order. Enough!

Be In the Know

Here’s a little Buy Buy Baby tip: they’ll accept Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons — you know, those ubiquitous 20% coupons — as long as they’re not expired. They’re owned by the same company, and the only other catch is that Bed, Bath and Beyond needs to carry the item online. In most cases, they do. So the next time you head there, bring your Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons! Every little bit helps, I like to say.

Resto Wrap Up

We had a nice dinner with Abby and Bruce on Friday night at Monte’s on Macdougal. I don’t even eat meat and the bolognese is delicious. They had it as a special with spinach fettucine. They also had a duo in for some live music, and they’re so nice there they didn’t rush us. We ended up having a great time for almost 3 hours.

This morning my friend Erica and her daughter Clio were in from Los Angeles, so Austin and I met them for brunch at Steak Frites, newly returned to Union Square. The food was good and they were super kid-friendly. They came over with french fries right away, and they offered Shirley Temples, although I turned them down. Plus they accommodated our off-menu requests. The prix-fixe brunch is $15.95 and includes coffee, tea, juice, a bloody mary or mimosa. I had moules frites and everyone else had omelettes and eggs — all were content. My only complaint was that I saw the Tropicana carton sitting on the bar, making it clear the OJ wasn’t exactly fresh-squeezed. We know it’s probably not, but don’t be so obvious!

Etc.

The weather was quite lovely here this weekend — very Fall, sunny with a chill in the air.

All Ken and I wanted to do was go to bed early last night when we were hit with some scene out of the Exorcist in the kids room. So instead he was up past midnight doing laundry. Oh well. Parenting is SO glamorous!

I have weirdly been craving pizza all weekend.

Is everyone ready for Oprah’s long goodbye?!

Hope you had a rootin’, tootin’ good time!

Bloody Good…Nail Polish

November 20, 2009

You know how I know I’m getting old? I could care less about Twilight. Anyway…

I should preface this recommendation by saying that I like things that are a little different — i.e., I’ve never been a French manicure kind of person. I wasn’t a huge fan of Chanel’s Vamp, which was all the rage a few years back. It was somehow too…dire. But OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark is somehow just right. It’s kind of a mixture of deep purple, deep red and black, all mixed into an awesome color — kind of like what blood would look like if blood were somehow fashionable, infused with indigo and applicable to toes.

I love it for a pedicure — I think it would be a little much on fingernails. Winter is a great time to test it out since your tootsies come out to greet the world a little less often.

Sign of the Apocalypse

Or at least in a sign of consumerism gone mad, I noticed this year that stores like Banana Republic and Old Navy will be open on Thanksgiving. So need to wait til the day after Thanksgiving to spend all that money you don’t have — skip time with your friends and family and head to the store on Thanksgiving. It’s really kind of sad. I hope all of their hired help working that day get paid triple overtime. (BTW, I noticed that on ads they’re saying “some” stores will be open. So call before you go, if you’re so inclined, because your municipality may not have lost its mind…yet.)

Could it Be? Yes it is!

Why, here comes Ken with the Single of the Week:

Metal – that lazy-eyed, thick-skinned uncle with the self-conscious sneer – never really left the couch. As much as you’ve tried to mock him to death and deliver him to the curb, he’s managed to stay put, sustain himself and do just fine, thank you. Case in point: Megadeth. Their name, high-speed arpeggios and dystopian album covers are Cold War relics, but they play on, oblivious to the Predator-bombing, Glee-loving age we live in today. At least they still play well. “Dialectic Chaos” (shouldn’t it be “Dialectical?”) is the instrumental that kicks off the band’s latest album, “End Game.”

Etc.

I started wearing a pedometer today, because depending on how many steps you walk, you can win cash prizes at work. It’s so funny — I’m totally curious how much I walk every day!

Addison told me tonight that I am her best friend. So freakin’ cute.

Clouds over the city, obscuring part of the Empire State Building. New York City at night still beautiful…

Have a fantastic weekend!

Blintz Blitz

November 19, 2009

This blintz dish is simple to make, and makes a nice accompaniment to whatever you’re serving for brunch. It’s plenty for a large group.
18 frozen blintzes (3 packages, Golden is good — I use a mixture of cheese and blueberry)
1/4 lb. butter melted in a 13×9 oblong pan (I use a little less butter)
Place blintzes in pan over butter
Blend in blender: 1 16 ounce container sour cream (I go for light sour cream), 6 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pour mixture over blintzes
Sprinkle with cinnamon
Bake 350 degrees, about 45 minutes
(When it’s done, the egg will puff up and not be runny.)
Voila! Serve it up.
Catch Up
You may have noticed that I had little to say on the Sarah Palin media blitz. My new tactic is that if I ignore her, she’ll go away…
RIP Ken Ober, Mr. Remote Control from MTV in the 80s…52 is awfully young to die.
What is up with the mammography debate? 50 is the new 40, I guess. My fear is that this will give insurance companies an excuse for not covering everyone. Just when you think they have it figured out…
Etc.
I cooked a worm tonight. So gross. I washed the broccoli last night, and that thing lived overnight. I didn’t notice it til I took the broccoli out of the microwave and the little brown worm was cooked! Ew.
Hope your mid-week is going well…

I’m feeling a bit tired so let’s get to it, shall we?

Here are three things everyone who owns (or rents) a home should know — even if you have a super, there are some things you need to be able to do on your own…

Know How to Turn It Off: As in power. And water. Just in case something goes horribly awry, you need to know where the switches are to turn off all power, and where the water main in, in case something starts to flood out of control. And don’t rely on your significant other, if you have one. You just may be home alone when disaster strikes.

Plunge Away: In an era of low flush toilets, knowing how to plunge your way out of trouble is essential. It’s a portable skill that may come in handy at someone else’s home too, so practice!

Get Names and Numbers: Because no matter how much you learn, there will always be something you can’t — or shouldn’t — attempt on your own. So make sure you have at least one fantastic, trustworthy handyman on speed dial. And treat him or her well, because they’re the key to sane survival!

Save It!

Ann Taylor Loft is having it’s friends and family sale — 30% off, from now til Sunday, 11/22. To redeem the offer online, enter the code FRIENDS at checkout. I went over during lunch and found some cute stuff.  I never feel this way, but I actually like the way they style and display the clothes there. It gives you some ideas. I’d say it’s worth checking out.

Etc.

Did I mention I was tired? I’ll have to talk about Sarah Pain fumbling her way through Oprah another day. Peace!

What?!

November 17, 2009

Nate Archibald is epic…

Ha ha — those of you who watch Gossip Girl will get that. Those of you who don’t — well, he’s epic!

I am trying to amuse myself because I just watched the most harrowing 60 Minutes piece about how cyber attacks are the biggest threat to the US and that foreign agencies (read: the Chinese) have found a way to break into the electrical grid and they have the potential to bring down the entire grid, knocking power out for months. What?! Then they talked about how this already happened in Brazil. Another problem is that $100 million has been stolen from US banks this year alone through cyber attacks. And while this is terrible, the real fear is that they will bring down the entire banking system, meaning that they will disrupt the normal financial flow, and when you go to take money out of your account, it won’t be there. What?! (I said that a lot during this show.) Then apparently someone hacked into the state of Virginia’s medical records, took all of the info, and wrote a ransom note that they would return it for $10 million dollars. So they held millions of people’s social security numbers, prescriptions and other medical records hostage, and threatened to go public. If you want to be freaked out, watch it yourself here.

Between that and the fact that I did not want to see the poor woman whose face was ripped off by the chimp but it came on the Today show this morning while I was at the gym and I had to watch it and it left me feeling a little sick and a lot bad for the poor woman. I mean, that is crazy on so many levels. I really hope she can get both a face and a hands transplant.

So I’m not sure what my message is today except to say that it’s so much easier to live in a world where the only thing we need to worry about is that Nate Archibald is epic. Sigh…if only.

Etc.

We watched Curb Your Enthusiasm tonight — very funny. Next week is the season finale and it’s a reunion show for Seinfeld, so it may be worth catching even if you’re not a regular viewer.

I really need to get a grip on my wardrobe. I feel like I wear the same things all the time, even though I have many other pieces at the ready. That would be a good service — someone to come in and show you how to re-mix your wardrobe. I mean a real life service — I feel like there must be a reality show like that.

Oh, Monday. Too early to think about the weekend!

org_767G02_tall_lrgI don’t exactly have time to put on face masks and lay down with some bon bons, but a good face mask every once in a while really does take the doldrums away from dry (or oily) tired skin. One I like is Origins’ Clear Improvement active charcoal mask to clear pores. I’ve been using it for years, and I find that there is actually some noticeable improvement with it. It unclogs any impurities and makes my skin feel deeply clean. They recommend using it once a week, I try for once a month — but it’s good to pull out whenever your complexion is feeling a bit iffy. I pull my hair back, put on the mask and let it dry and go to work while I get ready for my weekend morning shower. By the time I hop under the water, the mask is ready to come off and I get an efficient mini-facial.

It’s $21, and from now through November 19th, head on over to Origins.com and enter the code NovFF and you’ll get 25% off at their Friends and Family sale. A great deal! (You can get the discount off pretty much everything on the site, except gift sets.)

Savin, Savin, Savin

The Gap must be hurting, because they keep having these days where they just give 25% off the entire store. And they’re not the only ones — pretty much everywhere is having a sale at the moment…From Tuesday November 17th through Sunday November 22nd, head on over to Ann Taylor loft online and enter “Friends,” and you’ll be rewarded with 30% off your order.

The I headed into Juicy Couture on 5th Avenue today because I wanted to look at a winter jacket I had seen online and in a magazine. They were having a Friends and Family 30% off sale too. I found the jacket, and it was a good thing I had come to see it in person before I had it shipped — it had a bunch of details that I didn’t like at all that I hadn’t been able to see in any pictures I had seen. This is my issue with shopping online or in catalogues — you can’t really see the details. It had a rhinestone-encrusted “J” for a zipper pull (ew) and a ruffle going on at the wrists, which was cute but not the look I was going for. Oh well, the quest continues.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Apparently Monday night is the big grand opening party for the new Grey Dog Chelsea on 16th Street. Very exciting! Seems like a bigger space than any of the other ones. This could become our regular hangout. Excellent for breakfast — earlier is better as it tends to get crowded (their other ones, anyway).

Etc.

The wild and wacky weather continues — from cold and windy (Friday) to warm and rainy (Saturday) to kind of balmy (Sunday), I keep forgetting if I live in New York City or Miami. No palm trees so I guess I’ll go with Nueva York.

We had a birthday party down in SoHo this morning and afterward, we were walking to the subway and saw Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts and their kids. He seemed normal, but she was so gaunt with sunken cheeks and the most ridiculously HUGE sunglasses. I always wonder why famous people wear those, like it’s going to hide them. Anyway they seemed like a happy little family and she has a much stronger accent than you would think.

Then I saw Ira Glass from This American Life in Chelsea this afternoon and he was wearing huge actual glasses, not sunglasses. Not as exciting.

The weekends always seem to go so fast…hope it was a good one!

Rain on Me

November 13, 2009

pKCP-6733863v275Lord knows I don’t need another pair of boots, but if I did, I am loving these rubber motorcycle boots from Kenneth Cole. They’re chic and stylish enough to wear them even when it’s not raining! They’re actually men’s, and 100% of the net profits from the $98 purchase price goes to the AWEARNESS Fund, a partnership with AMFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. They have a women’s version but it’s a different style altogether, so get these while you can. — click here to buy.

Thank Goodness It’s Thursday Already…and That Means Here’s Ken with the Single of the Week

The other weekend, Austin asked me to read to him. “In a minute,” I said, handed him some gum, a stapler and some old tax returns to play with, and locked myself in my room to find some good pop songs. It took me 2-3 hours, but after meandering along the pop spectrum, I found Kate Miller-Hiedke, an Australian singer with a great warm vibe. Check out her relatively new single, “Caught in the Crowd.”

Then there’s this, which is great in its own right, even though it’s probably being used as an anti-Western jihadi recruitment video.

Click to watch!

Top Ten

I had to laugh at this Top Ten list from Letterman and Michael Buble the other night. So funny.

Etc.

Well the weekends can really not come soon enough, am I right? We have to do a big ‘ol Target run, which should be fun. I used to feel like I could never get out of there without spending $100, now I easily break the deuce every time. It feels crazy to spend that much on paper towels and soap, but that’s what it comes down to!

We are having some friends over for brunch too — I am trying a new recipe which I hope goes well. And my kids have a birthday party! So I’ll be wrapping some prezzies.

Hope you have some fun things planned. Enjoy!