Some Things Are Forever

April 30, 2010

My morning started with Austin asking/telling me: “Mom, you know what would be crazy? If someone made a monkey come alive in the bathroom.” And all you can do at that point is agree, because yes, that would be crazy!

Does anyone really send snail mail anymore? Yes, they do, whether it be bills or cards or (heaven forbid) an actual, hand-crafted letter. Yes, the postal service is losing money due to emails, etc., and yes, they seem to raise the basic rate quite often. So if you’re going to send, be smart and buy yourself the Forever stamps. They’re not the prettiest of things (how much Liberty Bell can you take?) but you can use them forever, no matter what the postal rate rises to. No more fumbling for one cent stamps, no more not using stamps because they’re not the right postage.

Here’s a tip: don’t wait til the threat of a rise in postage looms large to buy them. They seem to sell out and the postal service mysteriously runs out right around then. Keep them handy throughout the year and you’ll never be caught short!

Single of the Week

Here comes Ken:
In the May issue of People Style Watch, the cover story is “325 Fun & Flirty Looks for Drifters.” It previews the latest wares, whether you’re spending the night rifling through a dumpster or have an early morning meeting to find half-used cigarettes on the sidewalk. People are raving about the gray toggle coat smeared with four-day old bean dip, the plaid taffeta shirtdress that smells like pizza forgotten in someone’s pocket, and a chic red velvet camisole that 5 acquaintances have used as a tissue. The perfect musical accompaniment to these fashions is Son Volt, son of the 90’s Uncle Tupelo, cousin of Wilco and personal favorite of mine. It’s equal parts wanderlust, steel pedal and blue plate special. Enjoy the crowd favorite, “Tear-Stained Eye,” here:
Click here and play it with Lala. (You get one full play. After that, it’s a 30-second clip.)
http://bit.ly/aNou1v
Don’t Mistake Them For One of Them
Apparently the makers of AriZona Iced Tea are fearful of a boycott given that state’s new immigration law, but the stuff is actually made in New York, so there’s no need.
Really?!
There was a week working for Vogue on sale for charity, and apparently someone paid $42,500 in the winning bid. That’s like 2 assistants’ salary at Vogue!
Etc.
Well the weekend is just about here, and it is supposed to be GLORIOUS! Lots of warmth and sunshine. Sounds like a recipe for F-U-N.
Hope you enjoy and your allergies don’t flare up!

Come to Mama

April 29, 2010

Maybe the poison explains George Bush’s years in office…

Please come home with me...

Anyway, today let’s talk about shoes. Specifically, Sigerson Morrison. As a gal on the go, I spend most of my life in flats, running to catch the subway, keeping up with my kids and walking a marathon every few days. (That’s no joke, actually. I wear a pedometer most days, and apparently a marathon is 52,400 steps. I do that in three days.) Sigerson Morrison and their (slightly) lower priced line, Belle, manages to make flats that are interesting and wearable. No easy feat. Yes, they’re pricey (the signature line runs $450 or so a pair), but you can always wait for a sale to make your dreams come true. (There’s actually a sample sale happening at 123 West 18th Street til Friday, April 30th, but my experience is that things are mighty picked over.) I have many pairs of their shoes and I have never seen anyone wearing the same ones I have. In a world where everything is mass produced and mass distributed, you gotta love that. Check out the full line here. They’re the kind of shoes that make an outfit. (You can also find the line at better department stores, like Neiman Marcus.)

Also, on Thursday, it’s the Manolo Blahnik sample sale at the Warwick hosted by Vogue‘s Andre Leon Talley. I have never been anywhere near that sale, and I can only imagine the crazies that come out for it. Enter at your own risk.

Etc.

I was up so early this morning, because I wanted to work out before I had to be down on Wall Street by 8am. The security ad traffic down there is really insane. I had a terrible cab driver who ended up dropping me three blocks from where I needed to be and it was cold out!

It all adds up to me being super tired. So I am outta here…

Wiki Wiki Wiki

April 28, 2010

Let’s go old school. Get your head out of Wikipedia and back into Wiki Stix. Yes, those colorful strips of string covered in wax and able to be twisted and stuck into a myriad of possibilities. Cleaner than play-doh but still oh so much fun, they’re perfect to pack into your go-to pack for heading out to restaurants with little ones. (In fact, some restaurants are smart and generous enough to hand them out with their kids menu when you sit down. If that’s the case, make sure to take them for future outings.) Our favorite is to mold several of them into giant pinwheels.

Many people I know refuse to go out with their kids to restaurants, lest they have to deal with messes and messy behavior. But it’s inevitable that you’ll have to take the babes out of the house at some point, and it is entirely possible to have a great time going out all together. You just have to be realistic in your expectations.

1. Pick a kid-friendly spot. This does not mean McDonald’s. This just means a restaurant that is prepared to have little ones join the fray. My test if I’m not sure is to call and ask if they have high chairs. If they say yes, I know it’s okay. The Cheesecake Factory added a kids menu last year. In New York, places like the Landmarc restaurant in Tribeca and the Time Warner Center and Philip Marie in the West Village have pretty extensive kids menus, and highly sought after parent grub, too. Places like that will also be more understanding if there happens to be a meltdown.

2. Bring some entertainment. Depending on the age of your child, you need a bag of tricks to keep them occupied while the food is being prepared. Crayons and coloring books, the aforementioned wiki stix, a small action figure, a pretty pony — anything your child wants that will make them happy. And the bread basket works wonders, too.

3. Have them bring the kids’ food with your food. This is a classic mistake. If they bring the food for the children long before anyone else’s, what the heck are they going to do when they finish eating and your food hasn’t even arrived yet? Bother you, no doubt. So take your lumps up front, and you may have a shot at eating in peace.

4. When all else fails, threaten the loss of dessert. Works like a charm every time.

Snippets

Vera Wang is designing a new line of (much) lower priced wedding dresses for David’s Bridal…Hansen of “Mmm Bop” fame is back with a new album and promoted it with a Letterman appearance last week…

Etc.

Had a meeting at work today with the director M. Night Shayamalan (Sixth Sense), and he really seems like a likable guy. He does some self-deprecating humor about his highly secretive ways, and I always find it endearing when someone doesn’t take himself so seriously.

I have to go to the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow for work, and they don’t allow open toe shoes or sleeveless dresses. Hmmm…not sure what I should wear.

Anyway..busy week! Hope you’re well…

Wax On. Wax Off.

April 27, 2010

It’s getting to be that time of year again, when the bathing suits come out and the hair needs to come off. To take us through some tips for this timely and delicate situation, here’s regular guest blogger and all around great gal Denielle:

Waxing. I hope this isn’t too personal a topic for Family Favs, but here goes.

I have been a longtime waxer – leg, eyebrow, bikini, lip. You name it, I’ve waxed it at some point. The benefits far outweigh shaving – smoother legs (or any other skin surface you may be waxing), fewer ingrown hairs, longer time you can go between waxes, no icky stubbly legs 2 days later, etc, etc.

However, I have always had a one-night-stand approach to waxing. I never go to the same waxer twice. Trust me, there are enough spas in the greater NYC-area with enough employees that even if I went to the same place, I never met up with the same waxer.

Until I moved to Summit, NJ and met Michelle at The Girl from Ipanema Spa. She was my 3rd waxer in the 1st year I moved there. We met on my second visit to that spa. It’s not super fancy, but they have some sort of imported-from-Brazil, organic wax that is supposed to be less painful.  She distracted me by chatting constantly about her boyfriend dramas, she didn’t tell me she needed more wax to deal with my “situation” (file that under “what not to say to someone getting a bikini wax!”), she was super-fast and detail-oriented and generally seemed enthusiastic about her job.

Apparently, she used to do facials, but then gave it up because she got so busy with waxing! Maybe it’s more lucrative? I have no idea. Didn’t ask. Cannot imagine it’s more fun.

So, as summer fast approaches, here are my tips every waxee must follow:

  1. Exfoliate WELL before getting waxed. Loofah, scrubs, whatever.
  2. If you are getting a bikini wax, shower before you go. I consider this a courtesy to the waxer. It makes timing more difficult, but I also think there are benefits to having your skin softer and your pores more open.
  3. Take two Advil 45-minutes before getting waxed. Even The Girl From Ipanema Spa’s homemade wax that is supposed to be less painful still hurts, and a few Advil will take the edge off.
  4. Use TEND SKIN over the area for a few days following the wax to avoid ingrowns.  It’s some sort of magical concoction.
  5. Follow-up with exfoliation 2-3 days after waxing. If you do develop any ingrowns, invest in a pair of sharp-nosed Tweezerman tweezers. My love of Tweezerman should be the topic of a future post. They’re also great for doing in-between waxing eyebrow maintenance.

Happy waxing!

Get Cooking

April 26, 2010

Well Saturday was picture-perfect, weather wise. Which means that we woke up Sunday to pouring rain, which was a shame because it was the March of Dimes Walk for Babies, and our daughter, who was born 2 months premature, is an ambassador child for them. So we all headed up to the Lincoln Center before 8am and stood shivering and wet in the VIP tent. The kids had fun meeting Steve Smith, the receiver for the Giants, and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, who couldn’t have been lovelier. And it would be great if I could show you a photo of all of us together, but my dear husband forgot the camera. There were a bunch of professional photogs there, so hopefully they’ll send us some.

We all got home, peeled off our clothes and for some reason I decided I was in the mood to cook. A lot. So I let the kids decide what I should make and this is what I created from scratch today: for lunch, cannellini bean dip with pita crackers and chicken and dumplings (my recipe is really like a huge chicken pot pie). For dinner, rigatoni with chicken sausage and broccoli. And for dessert: cream cheese bars and chocolate and pistachio fudge. I have never made fudge before in my life, but Austin wanted to try it.

It was all good. And I am all tired. But how could I leave you without a recipe? Here’s the rigatoni recipe, which I modified from Real Simple. It’s quick, easy and healthy, too. And the kids like it, which is great because I am way over being a short order cook come dinnertime.

Rigatoni with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli

12 oz. rigatoni pasta

1 small onion, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 oz. package chicken sausage, fully cooked, sliced

1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets with the stems sliced

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta per the package directions.

Meanwhile, over medium high heat, heat the oil and the onion til soft, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add in the chicken sausage, cook til brown. About 5 minutes. Add in 1 and 1/2 cups water and the broccoli, cover and simmer til the broccoli is soft and cooked, stirring occasionally. (I like it a bit crisp, so I don’t cook it too long.) In the now empty pasta pot (because your cooked rigatoni is draining), mix together the parmesan cheese, pasta and broccoli mixture, along with all liquid. Put into bowls or onto plates and grate a little parmesan over the top. Enjoy!

Turn to the Left

Super cute at netaporter.com

I really like the line Paul & Joe Sister, but I’ve only seen it online. I’m not sure who sells it. It’s the lower-priced line to Paul & Joe, which also has some interesting pieces. It’s French and so you get that little je n’sais quoi action…Burberry is going to launch a line of cosmetics. Because, you know, there aren’t enough makeup lines out there. You know they’re going to have some sort of eye shadow pressed into the ubiquitous Burberry plaid…Speaking of fashion and those crazy kids over at Mode magazine, I finally watched the finale of Ugly Betty. I have to say, it was a well done show. I truly enjoyed its run. And the finale was well done — it tied up what it needed to and hinted at some interesting possibilities that may happen. Really, what more can you ask for?…This has nothing to do with fashion, but I had no idea dumpling king Din Tai Fung opened a place in Los Angeles. I seriously must go there. I discovered it in Taipei when I was there for work years ago and it has the best soup dumplings, bar none. Seriously. Next time I am on the west coast, I am there. I actually learned this from one of my friends from college’s Facebook posting. So I guess FB is good for something…

Etc.

Our friend Andy flew into town to go to Loseapalooza with Ken. That’s French for the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of the new Rush movie. Kiefer Sutherland was there too, so you do the math. Before they headed out, a bunch of us went to Hill Country for some seriously good barbecue and sides. If you’re in Manhattan and have a hankerin’ for bbq, this is the place to go.

And before you know it, it’s that slide back into Monday. And you’ve got to go, go, go. But the rain was nice while it lasted…

Where art thou?

You know what I want to talk about today? Zyrtec! And do you want to know why I want to talk about it? It is sold out in this freakin’ city! That is how bad allergy season is: you cannot get your hands on Zyrtec. I went to three different Duane Reades today and the shelves are bare. Poor Austin seems to be old enough now to have full on allergies and I cannot get the children’s liquid to give him and relieve his symptoms. It was family morning at his school and his teacher pulled me aside to tell me about his allergies and how he was rubbing his eyes after they were outside playing. The pharmacist on 14th Street assured me they’d get another shipment tomorrow, so we’ll see. Is it sold out in other parts of the country?

The big things doctors say to do to lessen symptoms are bathe before bed, so you get all of the pollen out of your hair and off your body; and sleep with the window closed at all times. Good luck — this year is bad. And the season is until the end of May.
Random
I just had to laugh this week that the Republicans all of the sudden changed their tune on financial reform once they got wind of the poll numbers in which just about every breathing American wants Washington to put some regulations in place to stem the greed. Talk about waking up and smelling the coffee…
I forgot to mention a week and a half ago that Ken ran into Sarah Jessica Parker, two of her children and a rabid pack of paparazzi one morning after he dropped Austin at school. We see SJP and her family fairly often since they live nearby, so that wasn’t really the crazy part. The photographers are so aggressive, and so in your face, it truly is distressing for these kids. If I were her I almost wouldn’t take them out. When you see the photos you think the cameras are a safe distance away, but when you actually see it, you realize they are only a foot or so away — it’s a complete invasion of personal space. And it’s not just one, it’s like 50. Check out one of the photos from this shoot here. Ken is just off to the right somewhere, waiting for the light to change.
Single of the Week
This week’s single incorporates two topics begging for press in today’s multi-tentacled media landscape. The first is the NHL playoffs: Ovechkin, Sid the Kid, the Coyotes, the tailwinds from Team Canada – take time to take in the speed, the carefully constructed chaos and legalized fighting of the world’s best hockey league. Then give a nod to another favorite Canadian pastime, Rush, whose tour this summer will include the first time “Moving Pictures” will be played in its entirety and documentary that will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. That roar, friends, is the sound of guitar store employees and tech support staff around the world in rapture. (A true cause for celebration, since rapture for these guys is usually self-derived.) To celebrate, let’s see Rush drummer Neil Peart’s new iteration of the sacred Canadian Hockey Theme.
Etc.
You know what? Rush sucks.
I had a quick and lovely lunch with guest blogger Rebecca today — even though we didn’t have a lot of time, it’s always great to laugh and catch up.
Well people, the end of the week is finally upon us. Can I get an “Amen!”?
Enjoy!

McLovin’ in Miami

April 22, 2010

Here comes regular guest blogger Rebecca:

Welcome to Miami

This past week I was in Miami with my husband on his business trip.  We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental.  It was so chic and quiet; so unlike South Beach.  If you’re into SoBe don’t go to this hotel.  It’s located in Key Biscayne surrounded by the intercoastal.  It’s beautiful to lay out by the pool or, if you’re like me, on the oversized beds on the beach, where you are waited on hand and foot.  They brought around berries on skewers and served the best passion fruit iced tea.  The pool is an infinity pool, which is always such a cool look.

One afternoon, I was sitting outside waiting for my husband to meet me and he says, “You’re never going to believe who is in the lobby.”  Yup, clearly I was not going to guess.  Although, Disney star was at the top of my list.  It was the kid from Wizards of Waverly Place.  Of course, the minute my daughter and her friend heard this they scream into the phone at a deafening volume “GET HIS AUTOGRAPH!!” Now, I look young, but compared to a kid, I’m ancient. So I saunter over, like no big deal and go up to this teenager and say in the most non-chalant of ways, “Hey, are you an actor?” and he’s like halulluah someone recognizes me.   “Yup,” he says, I then confirm he’s the kid from the show. I proceed to tell him how much my whole family loves his show and can he sign an autograph for my daughter.  The kid was totally psyched and I was totally mortified.  What would I not do for my kids?

The next celebrity sighting may interest you male or highly charged, teen adolescent movie lovers out there.  My husband and I get on the elevator to go to dinner and an awkward, strange looking teenager literally jumps into the elevator with us.  Which bugged me to no end.  My husband and I are discussing which floor to get off on and this uninvited interloper joins in the conversation, and starts jabbering away about what’s on each floor and where are we going, blah, blah.   He gets off the elevator FINALLY and my husband says, with a straight face, “McLovin!”  I said, what are you talking about, that guy wasn’t mcsteamy or mcdreamy or any of those names.  I never saw him on Grey’s Anatomy??  So, I’m sure you have figured out, it was the guy from Superbad.  I am embarrassed to admit that I have not seen one movie the guy’s been in. I guess that’s showing my age.

That’s a wrap on my Miami celebrity sightings…until next time.

Regular readers will know I was recently complaining about being stuck in a routine of going to the same old, same old restaurants, particularly with the kids. And what I realized is that it actually takes very little to change the mindset and feel fresh again. In fact, it takes JUST 3 THINGS!

1. Keep it simple. You know that thing that you’ve been wanting to do forever but just haven’t got around to it? Do it. Now. This weekend. Soon. Being able to cross that thing off your invisible list will do wonders for your sense of accomplishment. For me it was making some reservations at some new restaurants, trying out a babysitter I had wanted to add to my rotation of nighttime sitters, changing the kids’ clothes over from winter to spring and donating a huge bag of stuff to Housing Works. Not a huge time investment, but necessary, and once I focused and got it done I felt fantastic.

2. Plan something in the not so far future. I am a big planner, and one of the reasons I like it is that it gives me something to look forward to. I find that’s a huge motivator for keeping myself positive. When we were younger, childless and the dollar was stronger (oh, the ’90s), my husband and I went on a lot of long weekends to Europe. Airfares were relatively inexpensive, we loved going there and so we’d plan 4 or 5 day trips to Paris, London, Rome, Florence and other great cities. And the consistent reaction we’d get from people was, “I’d love to do something like that. How do you do it?” And the real answer was: we just do it! We call and we book and we go. And so, as our friends at Nike would say, just do it. Pick a week or a weekend and choose somewhere near or far. The important thing is that you’ve planned it, you’ve committed the time and you’re excited. Enjoy it.

3. When all else fails, do nothing. Some of my favorite days in New York City over the years have been days when nothing was planned, and things just happened. Lovely neighborhood walks, newly discovered shops, long lunches in an out of the way garden…If you’re at all like me, things get so scheduled that there’s rarely a moment to just chill. So break that rut and just stop. Everything. For 24 hours, you’ve got nowhere to be. You’re just going to be. Sleep in, curl up with a book, take your kids to the park and indulge. Because time truly is the greatest luxury of all.

Come back to me, Mad Men

July 25th, people!!! Mad Men will be returning to AMC during the long, hot summer. Season 4 cannot come soon enough. The few shows I’m watching have either not had any new episodes in several weeks (30 Rock) or have wrapped up and gone off the air (Ugly Betty). What’s a girl to do? (Besides blog, of course…) Very excited to get back to business with Don Draper and the gang.

Etc.

Are my doormen going to strike? It’s 10:30pm and I do not know. For all of you non-New Yorkers who wonder what all the big hubbub is, they really are the backbone of how buildings function: accepting packages, food deliveries, guests, taking the trash out and on and on. This is going to be interesting — they have until midnight to work out a deal.

Is it the weekend yet?

Ciao!

While I await word on whether or not there will be a doormen strike, please welcome back regular guest blogger Michelle:

Recently I’ve been making these delicious somewhat healthy pumpkin cookies for my kids.  They’re actually more like pumpkin muffin tops.  I got the recipe from the Junior League of Portland, Maine RSVP cookbook.  I made changes to make it a little healthier.  Here is my version:

1 can of pumpkin

¼ cup of melted butter

1 cup of sugar

2 eggs

1 cup of regular flour

1 cup of whole wheat flour

½ cup wheat germ

¼ cup ground flax seed

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of pumpkin spice (if you have it)

Mix all ingredients together. (If you find the batter difficult to incorporate, add a dab of buttermilk or milk.)  Drop batter by a tablespoon onto cookie sheets.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Enjoy!

Great Author – Louise Penny

I’m really enjoying Louise Penny’s Three Pines Mysteries books.  They are murder mysteries that take place in asmall town in Canada.  The characters are truly characters, from the gay B&B and Bistro owners, Olivier and Gabri, to Ruth, the eccentric poet who at social events will help herself to scotch in a vase!  In the third book, The Brutal Telling, Ruth has a pet duck that follows her everywhere, sometimes wearing a sweater. It’s not all silliness. There is suspense and great writing. The first of the three is Still Life.  It’s definitely worth a read.

Beauty

My new favorite lip balm is Blistex Deep Renewal.  It leaves your lips soft and shiny while preventing wrinkles!  It has Coenzyme Q10 for anti aging and SPF 15 for sun protection.  It’s very affordable at $1.89.  I found it at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Sleep is the New Black

April 19, 2010

On Saturday, I was going to get up at 7am with the kids, but Ken told me to sleep in and he’d get up. I wasn’t sure I could go back to sleep, but I did — til 10am. And you know what? I felt great! Which made me realize how I’m running at a desperate sleep deficit 99% of the time. I could think more clearly, I got a ton done, and I wasn’t falling asleep at 9pm that night. It definitely inspired me to figure out a way to get more sleep when I can.

And I encourage you to do an experiment and sleep without an alarm clock on a weekend morning. See when you sleep til and how you feel. Adjust accordingly!

Fashion Don’t

Dear Gap,

No one wants to wear leather vests. Particularly in the summer.

I did some shopping this weekend, and things were pretty bleak. I think spring and summer clothes in general are tough to get excited about, but come on…t-shirts are so boring. (And note to J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Loft, Gap and so on: rosettes on a t-shirt still make it a t-shirt. So don’t try and charge $40 extra dollars for it.) I scoured Bloomingdale’s, Barneys Co-op, Gap, Old Navy, J. Crew and some other places and the only thing I liked was a cool unstructured leather jacket at Bloomie’s (I don’t even know the designer), but I wasn’t so into the $800 price tag, and Vince had some interesting short-sleeved shirts (which were, essentially, t-shirts once again) for $130 that seemed a little excessive. So, surprise, surprise, the only one who made out like a bandit was Addison, who made we go into Crewcuts (“They have nice kids clothes in there, mom.”) and she picked out some tops that she had to have. This two-year-old is too much. But I did learn that Crewcuts always ships free online, which I didn’t know. The Gap had some nice t-shirt and shorts combos for her, as well.

The moral of the story, I guess, is save your pennies for when things are a little more interesting in the stores. And wear the t-shirts you surely have in your drawers already…

Breaking out

I’m on this kick to break out of our rut in terms of going back to the same places to eat, particularly with the kids. Today we all had brunch at Hundred Acres on MacDougal. So good! I had been there for lunch a few weeks ago and wanted to try it one weekend. I had poached eggs with warm spinach, goat cheese and corn bread, and Ken had some sort of eggs with sausage that they make in-house. There isn’t a kids menu but the two of ours split French Toast. And we all enjoyed cream biscuits and banana bread. I definitely recommend it — their butter, of all things, is particularly tasty. Most brunch entrees are around $12. It fills up for brunch so I would definitely make a reservation.

Kiss my Ash

Friends of mine were supposed to go to London last week but everyone is grounded due to the volcano in Iceland that’s erupting, which you’ve probably heard about. The Times has some fascinating footage from underneath the volcano — Austin and I were mesmerized. Check it out — and definitely stay (or skip) til the end. It’s electric! Watch it here.

Etc.

The weather reports painted a picture of a washout but it really was a nice weekend, albeit a little chilly. We managed to enjoy ourselves running errands, going to the Museum of Natural History and other various activities. I spent several hours going through the kids’ clothes and switching them over to their spring wear. Such a production! But it’s all so neat and organized now. I give it a week before it’s a mess.

We were at the Shops at Riverside in Hackensack last night and Austin goes, “Mommy, why are all the malls in New Jersey?” Hilarious.

Hope you had fun!