Quick and Easy Tonight

February 26, 2010

Okay — here’s another tested and approved quick, easy and fulfilling dinner. Buy pre-made pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli. (Yes, you could make it yourself, but then it would qualify as neither quick nor easy, but knock yourself out.) If you live in NYC, check out Rafaella’s on Houston for some of the best homemade ravioli in town, at a fantastic price.) Prepare according to package instructions. Drain. In the same pot (less to wash up!) melt about a quarter stick of butter over low heat. Add in a package of fresh sage leaves (pull off any stems). Cook the sage til crispy. Add another quarter of a stick of butter and salt and pepper to taste. When it’s melted down, add in the cooked ravioli and combine over low heat. Serve! The sage really brings out the yummy spicy undertones in the pumpkin or squash filling.

Hey! It’s The Single of the Week

Before we get to it this week, I must say that I called Ken’s attention to this song and performance. What I said is: I don’t like it! And he went and made it the single of the week. Whatever. Here’s Ken:

The other day while doing my taxes, my mind turned to the subgenre of booty songs. Mainstreamed in 1992 by Sir Mix-A-Lot and his single “Baby Got Back,” popularized by Destiny’s Child and “Bootylicious” and desecrated by Trace Adkins’ “Honky Tony Badonkadonk,” these songs acknowledge the fact that ass, and attention to ass in particular, is praiseworthy. Leave it to underground-yet-ready-to-break-out MC Nicki Minaj to keep a girl’s junk in the public conscious with her collaboration with falsetto gel-boy, Robin Thicke. Minaj has been grinding away in the land of the mixed tape, and showing she’s no stranger to toting her body parts, has artfully combined a superhero reference with her vagina in the song “Slumber Party”: “It’s tighter than a choker, got him smilin’ like the Joker, got that na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na.” Watch her Shakin’ It 4 Daddy on the Late Show.

Etc.

It was a mix of snow and sleet today. It started snowing at about 7am and it just has not stopped. Looks like it’s going til Saturday! Hopefully it won’t cut into any weekend plans.

Enjoy!

Dim Bulb

February 25, 2010

When we were looking for a new lamp, Ken told me that we couldn’t buy anything with a dimmer because it wouldn’t take a CFL light bulb (the kind that saves energy). Pretty much everything at IKEA has a dimmer. So I went somewhere else and spent a lot more money on a lamp that doesn’t have a dimmer. Then I was at Home Depot to try and find an equivalent to a 150 watt bulb (which doesn’t seem to exist, btw) and I see that there are energy efficient dimmer bulbs! So it opens up a whole other possibility of lighting options. And my husband should get his facts straight before we go and buy a new lamp under false pretenses!

The Gilt is off the Lily

Have you guys heard about Gilt, the sample sale site? You supposedly have to be invited to join, but the truth is they let anyone in. And they do have pretty good sales of some high end designers. I’ve made one purchase — actually clothes for Addison — but I do sometimes look through if there’s a designer I like.

What I recently found interesting and disappointing is that in order to keep up with the demand of having so many sample sales every day, they are now having designers manufacture clothes at a lower pricepoint just for them, but they never disclose it. So while you think you’re buying a $2,000 dress for $785, it’s really a dress made with an overrun of fabric and stitched together in a cheaper way. And even though they say it sold for $2,000, it never did. Worse yet, one designer said he uses cheaper fabrics and materials than what was in the store. And Gilt admits its going to be doing more and more of it. Which means I think I’ll be buying less and less. If you can’t trust what you’re getting, what’s the point?

Don’t Cry For Me American Idol Winner

Kris Allen, actually making a lot of $

Did you read about what’s in the American Idol contract they make these kids sign? The shocking thing to me is that they actually pay them pretty well. I always figured they robbed them blind. Turns out a winner like Kris Allen is guaranteed about $650,000 the first year. Certainly nothing to sneeze at. Check out the article here.

Etc.

Here comes yet another storm! This one is scheduled to last two days. Oy — enough already. Of course on the news they have people out stocking up and hoarding everything in sight.

Is this week going fast or slow? I can’t tell. But I guess we’re over the hump now!

Baby Style On The Cheap

February 24, 2010

I am a fan of Target for many things, but clothes have not been one of them. I had a bad experience with a Circo bib when Austin was a baby — it caused him to break out in a horrible rash on his neck and I was turned off for the rest of Austin’s baby years.

Now after almost six years as a parent, I’ve got a whole high/low thing going on with their wardrobes, particularly with Addison. They’ve got plenty of Little Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren and also plenty of Gap Kids and Old Navy. And my favorite thing I’ve found in a while are the Circo leggings for girls at Target. I like the way they’re cut — not too body skimming, but not too baggy. They run true to size, so a 2 fits a 2 year old (novel concept), and they’re generous in length, so they last through a growth spurt. (Unlike Daily Tea, which seems to have been made for short-legged freaks.) And the best part? $4. Yes, four bucks. Meaning no need to worry if they get ripped up or painted on. Buy ’em in a bunch of colors. And then when your daughter’s leg ends up in a cast, you’ve got plenty of wardrobe choices to fit over the lame extremity! (Available in Target stores or at Target.com.)

Boo!

Ken told me that Walgreens is going to buy Duane Reade. Boo! If the Walgreens in Times Square is any indication, Duane Reade is FAR superior. (Just as one example: Walgreens keeps their mouthwash behind a locked cabinet. For real.) So here’s hoping they leave well enough alone and don’t try to turn every DR into a Walgreens.

CB2 is not good. Their stuff looks cool online and then you go to check it out in the store and it’s just cheap and awful. Plus you have to put pieces together, and the screw holes don’t line up, the threading is stripped…Come on Crate and Barrel, you can do better!

Apparently Jay Leno will have Sarah Palin on his second night back at the Tonight Show. Yet another reason to hate Jay Leno.

Etc.

Well the rain has started and I think I yawned about 50 times today. Noah should be coming through with his ark around Thursday…just in time for the next snow storm to hit! Oy.

Hope you’re having a good week. Stay warm!

Cold Comfort

February 23, 2010

Save me!

As I mentioned last week, I completely jinxed myself by thinking that I hadn’t been sick at all this winter, thus insuring that I got a nasty cold Friday into the weekend, complete with constant running, dripping nose. (Isn’t that the worst? I guess bested by constant vomiting, but that’s another story…) It reminded me that one of the better inventions to come out of the latter 20th century is tissues with lotion. Yes, you may eventually reach the point where your nose is red and raw, but it takes a lot longer to get there with these soft tissues.

I’m partial to Kleenex brand, but all of them make a version with lotion in it. (Kleenex puts aloe in as well!) Even Target’s house brand has it. Some people use regular ones but then break out the good stuff when they actually get sick, because yes, they do cost a little more. I find them so much more comfortable that they’re the only ones I buy — soft tissues for everyone! Now when I use plain old regular tissues they feel rough and harsh and so behind the iron curtain…

The pocket packs come in a lotion version as well — I keep some stashed in the glove compartment of the car and in my purse. So I am ready to go the next time a dang cold hits. And let’s be honest, it’s just a matter of time before it will. (A box of 80 Kleenex tissues with lotion runs about $2.)

Etc.

They say another storm is supposed to come through but all looks calm across the city. The Empire State Building is a clear blue and green tonight. Maybe it was a false alarm.

My pilates teacher is away for two weeks so I am hoping I can do enough stretching and strengthening on my own that I’ll be ok in the meantime. I definitely feel like my hamstrings are the root of most evil. I’ve been using this giant rubber band to stretch — I lie on my back, one leg in the air, put the band around my foot and pull the leg toward me in a massive stretch. It definitely helps to release my lower back too.

Hope your Monday was tolerable!

Words To Live By

February 22, 2010

I was listening to this lecture about what’s wrong with the way Americans eat, and the guy said something that really resonated with me: every day is not a celebration. I’ve been thinking about it all weekend. It’s so true! Every meal out doesn’t deserve to be eaten like it’s your birthday. There are often desserts; there are always treats. There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with a lot of the foods we all eat, they just aren’t meant to be eaten regularly.

Michael Pollan has an interesting theory that it’s okay to eat whatever you want, but you should make it yourself, from scratch. The idea being that if you have to make, say, french fries, it would deter you from eating them so often since the labor required to make them is a lot harder than going to the drive thru at Mickey D’s. Cakes and cookies too. Plus if you make it yourself, chances are you’re using much better ingredients than the chemicals in processed food. (And from scratch means really from scratch — no pre-packaged mixes!)

I thought it was an interesting point. Save the party for when there’s really something to celebrate. However you want to think about it, it seems that moderation, as we’ve known for a while, really is key.

Welcome Aboard

I’m happy to announce something new for 2010 here at Family Favs: permanent guest bloggers. We have several people who will be sharing their expertise, thoughts and viewpoints on a regular basis, and I’m excited to have them come aboard. Denielle, who you may remember from her post on what not to say to a pregnant woman, will be sharing her thoughts on raising three girls. Liz, based in Melbourne, Australia, will blog about her love of cooking and international travel. Bret will be enlightening us all about his job search, and his upcoming work on the U.S. Census. (Previously Bret shared his recipe for Beer Can Chicken, which I hope you all tried this summer.) Michelle will be sharing some of her many amazing recipes. Rebecca will write about her extensive Caribbean travel, as well as her expertise in selling real estate and planning events. Tori will share her thoughts as a gal about Brooklyn, including her experience mentoring a teenage girl. And, joining us from the left coast, Mia will be blogging about her life in San Francisco and sharing kid-friendly activities and restaurants. She just told me about a wardrobe consultant that changed her life, and I hope she writes her first post about that! Ken, of course, will continue bringing us all his Single of the Week. The goal of Family Favs is to provide you tips, thoughts and ideas to make your life just a little bit better. I’m very happy to have all of these terrific people join and expand the conversation! Look for their posts to begin next month.

Etc.

The big news here is that poor Addison took a nasty spill at the new Union Square playground and wound up in the Emergency Room. She’s now got a splint, which is essentially a cast, on her left leg. They don’t think anything is broken, but we’ll know more when I take her to the orthopedist this week. Always something, as they say! The poor kid is walking around with this big cast, and she has a boot to put on when she goes outside. I just hope it’s nothing more than a bad contusion in her heel.

It’s back to school for the kids this week. And not a moment too soon! We can’t afford to sustain any more injuries.

Hope everyone is in one piece in your house!


Say “Ah”

February 19, 2010

Why are people so obsessed with talking babies?

I’m not sure about that, but I know I totally jinxed myself by thinking that it was remarkable that I hadn’t really been sick so far this winter. Here it comes! I am definitely coming down with a cold — just hoping that it’s not too bad.

What’s ironic is that today I want to talk about going to the doctor — but not when you’re sick. I was having lunch with someone recently who is in her mid to late 40s, and she told me she hadn’t been to the doctor in over five years. She goes if she’s sick, but never for a check-up. I was pretty stunned — five years is a long time. Then I started speaking to others about it, and it was pretty common. People just aren’t making time for a well visit.

Here’s the thing — some things won’t be caught unless you see a doctor for a check up. Blood tests reveal things that could be going on in your body that you’d never see outward signs of until much, much later. Blood pressure creeping up needs to be kept in line. Plus even if everything is fine, it gives the doctor a baseline to judge abnormalities against in the future. Whenever I speak to my friends who are MDs, they all say that one of the biggest things that will keep health care costs down is if people got regular checkups and caught and treated problems early, rather than waiting til they needed critical care.

So, if you haven’t had a physical in a long time, call and make an appointment! If you have insurance, if nothing else, for the price of a co-pay, you’ll have peace of mind. Get to it!

Come to Momma

Fashion Week is winding down here in NYC, and I have 2 takeaways: gray nail polish is in (didn’t I call that one!!) and come fall I will be craving some Marc by Marc Jacobs. I am especially loving the little kitten heels. Check it out here.

Oscar Madness

So every year the producers of the Academy Awards say they’re going to mix it up and make it new and exciting. And every year I’m sitting on my couch close to midnight, cursing myself for staying up so late on a Sunday night for much ado about nothing. This year, so far they have eliminated the performances of the nominated songs, and apparently today at the nominee luncheon, they told everyone they should prepare two speeches: one for onstage, 45 seconds of what Oscar means to them. Then offstage they will have a thank you cam where they can go down their laundry list of thank yous, which will go online and they can post it on their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Really? This seems highly unlikely. But I guess I’ll keep an open mind.

Hey Now!

Here’s Ken with the Single of the Week:

Is this video in 3D? Considering that it’s a collaboration between two European women attired in leather, does it really matter? Come to think of it, is there music playing in the background?

Etc.

I haven’t really watched any of the Olympics, but I wanted to watch the men’s figure skating finals. But first I am sitting through the women’s halfpipe. I am not into the U.S. women’s uniforms — some sort of flannel shirt/denim snowpants combo. Bad stoner fashion.

So excited for the weekend. So wanting my cold to go away!

Have a good one!

Forward, Charge!

February 18, 2010

What is up with Bob Costas’ hair? It’s not a color found in nature and it’s really bothering me.

This has nothing to do with anything but once he sat in front of me at a Knicks game, and he is SO small — his finacee’s diamond engagement ring was almost as big as him.

Anyway…don’t you get sick of being asked to open up a charge account at every store you purchase something? Most of them aren’t worth the trouble, but if you shop at The Gap, Banana Republic or Old Navy regularly (and if you have a pulse, you probably do), it’s most likely worth getting one of their credit cards. A couple of years ago I broke down and got a Banana card, and I have found it worthwhile for several reasons. They have different days (like every Tuesday) when credit card holders get an extra 10% off. If you have one of the cards, most promotions that the other stores are running for their cardholders will get extended to you. (For instance, even though my card is Banana, The Gap extends its discounts to me.) You earn 5% of every dollar you spend at any of The Gap Inc.’s stores (including Piperlime and Athleta) in gift cards, which you can spend at any of their stores. (You get 1% of every other purchase.) If you spend $800 in a calendar year, you become “Luxe” with Banana, which gives you free alterations on anything, and free shipping on any of their websites, at any price. So if you find that dress on sale at BabyGap.com for $9.99, no more hemming and hawing about paying for shipping — it’s free!

If you do find yourself shopping in these stores often, pick which one you buy things in most and wait for a day when you’ll be making a large purchase. Then go for it and get 15% off your first day’s purchases, and start reaping the rewards. You’d be surprised how much you spend in their stores, and how quickly the gift cards add up. It is nice if you need jeans or pajamas to have a little subsidy!

Etc.

No Olympic fever yet.

Don’t you hate when someone asks you a question that they clearly aren’t interested in your answer to? If you’ve already made up your mind, don’t waste my time. That’s my motto. (Catchy, isn’t it?)

I must say happy birthday to Andy! You don’t look a day over 50 (ha ha). Have you figured Twitter out yet?

Feeling tired, glad we’ve made it over the hump this week. See you tomorrow!!

Just Peachy

February 17, 2010

When you live in one part of NYC, you tend to stay in one part of NYC. This may seem strange to anyone who doesn’t live here, but when you have hundreds of good places to eat and shop within a five block radius, venturing too far from your home base seems silly. But when there’s somewhere really, really good to go, you get out the Metrocard.

Such is the case with Momofuku Noodle Bar. We hopped on the 14d after bowling at Chelsea Piers and took it allllllllll the way to First Avenue, then walked down a few blocks to the restaurant. It’s usually crowded, but today, maybe because of the snow, there was no wait. We brought Austin, and it’s fun for kids to sit at the counter and watch them cooking up a storm. (But I wouldn’t exactly call it a kid-friendly place, since the menu is limited and the food is spicy.) The steamed buns are delicious to start. There are two in an order; perfect for sharing. I’m partial to the chicken but the pork is good too. A dab of hot sauce will do ya. My favorite thing on the menu right now is the Chilled Ginger Scallion Noodles. It’s noodles mixed with fresh spinach, spicy pork and candied cashews — the sweet/salty thing going on is delish. My favorite thing you can order off the menu is the Kimchi Stew. Super spicy, super filling with these awesome soft rice cakes throughout. It’s served with a bowl of rice, which you need to cool your mouth off. They offer soft serve for dessert that’s supposed to be tasty, but we’re always too full.

This is a delicious compost cookie!

Afterwards, head over to Momofuku Milk Bar, on 13th Street just west of 2nd Avenue. This is some sort of bakery on acid. Anderson Cooper had been on TV raving about the compost cookies, so we got some to take home. They’ve got mini chocolate chips, pretzels, candies, fritos — really anything laying around and delicious — mixed right in. They have some amazing looking cakes and pies — there’s one called “crack pie” which is made with butter, sugar and other addicting treats, hence the name. There are some tables to stand and chow at, but it’s more of a take it home place.

Highly recommend both places, plus you get a scenic bus ride!

Momofuku Noodle Bar is at 163 First Avenue. Most entrees are $12 – $16. Momofuku Milk Bar is at 207 Second Avenue. Cookies are $1.85 each or 3 for $5. Pie is $5.25 a slice.

Etc.

The snow fell all day here, but it didn’t amount to much. We didn’t let it cramp our style. Hung out with a bunch of friends and bowled, headed east for lunch and went to watch Austin’s progress in his swimming class. Nice to have an extra day off of work, but now it’s back to the salt mines tomorrow…

Hope you’re having a good week!

Skip, Hop and a Jump…

February 16, 2010

If you’ve ever been to a major city, wanted to use public transportation to save a few bucks but then felt frustrated by reading the maps and trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B so you hail a taxi, this site is for you. Hop Stop (hopstop.com) lets you put in where you need to go from and to, and then tells you the best way to get there on public transportation. It even lets you pick if you’d rather transfer more and walk less, or vice versa. Most major U.S. cities, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, DC, are included, as are London and Paris for any trips abroad. I tend to use it in NYC when I have to go somewhere tricky, and it has yet to let me down, even when I doubt it. Like this afternoon when I was meeting the kids and Ken for dim sum in Chinatown and it told me to take the F to East Broadway and walk back to Elizabeth Street. I thought it was crazy, but when I searched other methods and then actually did the trip as suggested, it made total sense. Thanks, Hop Stop!

Etc.

Gotta love long weekends…it was one of those great ones where we had a few plans and then things kept coming up so we ended up being busy with lots of fun things. We started out Friday night by having a lovely dinner at La Carbonara on 14th Street. Relaxing ambiance, pretty good food, prices that keep people coming back — most entree pastas were around $12.

Tonight we had dinner at Cookshop. Very tasty. Had a nice Reisling. Saw Wallace Shawn (“Inconceivable!” from the Princess Bride.) But we sat next to two people on a blind date — oh my! It really made me feel like I never want to get divorced. It was so much work for them to have a conversation. The woman had apparently lost an earring on the way over, and the guy goes, “I’m a Virgo so I notice these things.” What?! Run, don’t walk, away, lady.

Hope you had a good one!

Bridge Over Troubled Water

February 12, 2010

Last week I ventured out for a ladies night (holla!) featuring dinner and a show. We tripped the Broadway lights fantastic with Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge, starring Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson. I give it a big thumbs up — particularly for Schreiber’s performance as Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman in Brooklyn who lives with his wife and 17 year old orphaned niece, who he’s obsessed with (that would be Scar Jo). When his wife’s two cousins come over from Italy illegally, and his niece falls in love with one of them, his jealousy brings the whole house of cards that is his life down all around him.

The sets are cleverly done, the acting all around is good (except I could not stomach the wife’s accent — it may be accurate, but it is grating, to say the least) and the play itself holds moments of laughter and relateable drama. Schreiber is truly excellent in the play, and I hope TONY rewards him when the time comes.

(On stage at the Cort Theater through April 4.)

You know what my favorite  thing about the Single of the Week is? It means the weekend’s almost here!

So take it away, Ken:

The Streets is some dude named Mike Skinner, whose hip-hop is laced with house beats and a cockney accent – not really much to tweet home about. But when Nero juices up a song like “Blinded By the Lights,” I get inspired to crank it up, drop some X and do some “sight words” flashcards with my kids. Reading is funkadental.

Click here to take a listen.

Etc.

I was so sorry — and shocked — to hear that the designer Alexander McQueen died today. Apparently he committed suicide. He was so talented and so respected — it just goes to show you you never know what inner demons people are nursing. Rest in peace.

Applause all around for NYC’s snow removal efforts. It is amazing that the day after a blizzard things can return to somewhat normal. Washington needs to take a lesson.

Happy Valentine’s Day! To celebrate that lurve-ly feeling, I leave you with this. Enjoy!