I woke up with a massive headache, unfortunately, and it has stayed with me ALL day…hopefully it will go away before the blessed long weekend arrives.

Whether you were a regular viewer of Sex and the City on HBO or not, there’s no denying the place in pop culture that Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte hold. It really changed the way women were portrayed on screen (for better or worse). It defined an era with its cosmos, Manolos and black bras under white t-shirts. And it has caused RIDICULOUS lines at Magnolia Bakery, to the point where we had to defect uptown to Billy’s to get our fix . (And a note to the hordes of people who get cupcakes at Magnolia and then eat them on the benches next to Bleecker Park: you just paid almost $3 for that, have some class and throw your wrapper in the garbage.)

I lived on Waverly during most of the Sex and the City years, and they often used to film around the corner. (Fact you may not know: while they said Carrie lived on the Upper East Side, the exteriors of her brownstone apartment were filmed on Perry Street in the West Village. The poor saps who now live there have installed a camera and a chainlink rope distraction to try and keep people from trespassing on the front steps.) In fact, one day I came home to find Sarah Jessica Parker sitting on my front stoop, waiting to resume filming, and I had to ask her to move so I could get inside. She happily obliged.

This weekend the second installment of the movie hits theaters. Yes, it probably won’t be that good. (The pretty abysmal review in today’s NY Times seems to confirm this.) But how can you not go? If only to see how the story plays out, as well as the fashion. When I went to see the first movie, the packed theater literally let out a collective “whoop!” and clapped and cheered when the familiar theme song came on. I suspect that will happen again. And even though the plot may be thin, everyone will leave happy. Because there’s a little bit of Sex and the City in all of us, no?

(On a side note, Austin knows I want to see this movie, and he saw a poster for it and read “Sex-and- the-City” in that halting way you do when you’ve just learned to read. He then pointed to Sarah Jessica Parker and said, “She’s Sex, right?” Yes, indeed.)

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken:

My mother and father were both Japanese immigrants, and I spent the entirety of my childhood in a town called Hopewell Junction. I know what you’re thinking: what a guido. Indeed. I would spend hours cruising in my ’84 Nissan Stanza, killing time between tennis practice and studying for my physics achievement test. If this song by Effie (featuring Pharrell) had existed, its synth-a-sonic, droning beat would have been blowing out my windows and trippin’ out the entire Grand Union parking lot.

Etc.

I feel like this week has been one long haze of random stories: Fergie (allegedly) bribing someone…a hair transplant for Marc Jacobs…Gary Coleman in critical condition…some guy named Lee won American Idol (bye Simon)…a Pussycat Doll won Dancing with the Stars (duh)…

But now: long weekend in the house! Everybody say “hey!”

Have a good one…

City Gal

May 27, 2010

Before we get to Rebecca taking us on her adventures in the big city, for those of you in the Chelsea area, there’s a new addition to the neighborhood: Chelsea Cove, a beautiful new carousel, a 15,000 square foot skate park, and a huge new field to play in. It’s on the piers just north of Chelsea Piers. Check it out here, and enjoy!

Last week was a big NYC week for me.  Too busy. Too crazy. Too hot. Too cold. Too late, I’m sold, again, on NYC.  Not quite sure of the lyrics, but that song went off in my head. Anyway, I met up with some friends and we went out to a great dinner in Chelsea.  Tipsy Parson is the name.  Funny name, great place.  The food was beyond yummy and flavorful. Loved the hip atmosphere.  Great bar.  All good.  Ya gotta go!

On our way to Tipsys, we stopped at Billy’s Bakery. A baker was in the front window mixing the frosting, and you wanted to break through the window and start licking it. My friend and I bought cupcakes – delish!

The next night, I was back in the city to see the musical American Idiot.  That show has been so hyped. Here’s my review. See the real Green Day in concert, instead, at Jones Beach this summer or wherever it is that they’re playing. All in all, the music, scenery and dancing were good. The problem for me was the lack of a story line. The audience gave around ten standing ovations.  My group was ready to leave after 45 minutes.

There is a side story to our experience seeing the show.  I went with some of my family, my husband being one of the people.  He doesn’t truly enjoy the Broadway experience.  So the four of us sit down and no sooner are we in our seats when we need to stand up to let someone into his seat. That someone was a poster child for Rochester Big and Tall, not that there is anything wrong with that.  He proceeded to take the seat next to my husband.  This was not my husband’s night.  So, let’s paint this picture a little more clearly.  My husband was racing to get dinner before he was forced to see the show.  He decided to grab a slice of pizza with only 15 minutes to spare before show time.  We went to one of those sweaty, hot, dirty table places.  The kind of place when you’re at the table and you don’t know the last time it was cleaned. It has the loud air-conditioning blaring, even in the winter time. Where you inevitably are sitting by the bathroom. As you know, those theater seats are small to begin with.  He doesn’t like shows, and NOW he had to sit for two hours and share his seat with someone three times his size.  We all (me, my mom and my sister) offered to switch seats with him, but he wouldn’t budge.  Who can you make fun of if not your husband?  Needless to say, I will not invite him to a Broadway show again.  Unless, of course, our daughter is in it.

M and M’s and Me

May 26, 2010

Here’s guest blogger Denielle, making everyone very, very hungry…

I am an admitted purist when it comes to my junk food. I do not like flavored chips – pita, bagel, potato, or otherwise. (Though I will make an exception for Lime Tostitos, which, in my opinion, are so far superior to the original that they are the standard and the plain corn version has become the “flavor” I do not enjoy.) I only like buttered popcorn, regular Special K (not the kind with freeze dried strawberry or banana) and soda or seltzer in its original form…none of this added lime/cherry/lemon/mandarin orange/etc. If I want to add fruit, I prefer the fresh version.

Therefore I was a bit skeptical when I saw PRETZEL M&M’s in CVS the other day. Maybe they’ve been out a while, but they just penetrated my sheltered suburban existence with a large, free standing display.*

“Why?” I thought to myself. “The original and the peanut are so great, what Brand Manager thought that M&M’s needed to diversify and cater to pretzel lovers? Was there really a gap in the market? Aren’t they just going to cannibalize their own sales?”

Fast-forward two days and I’m back at CVS. I took a look at my EXTRA BUCKS REWARDS from the last trip and found a “Free Pretzel M&M’s” coupon. Well, as much as I’m a junk food purist, I’m also a sucker for a good coupon. So I thought I’d give them a try.

I was pleasantly surprised by the result. Firstly, said Brand Manager did a good job of keeping the candy in the trademark M&M shape. I had imagined a milk chocolate-coated pretzel twist with a candy shell, but found milk chocolate-coated pretzel nuggets, which have the same shape as a peanut M&M. This was a positive as I believe the shell-to-chocolate ratio is one of M&M’s strongest selling points.

The candy possessed a really good sweet-to-salty ratio, too, which is the distinctive proposition of this new line (“Crunchy, Salty, Sweet” it says). The initial bite is harder than I would have thought. Not “chip-a-tooth” hard, but just harder than I would have anticipated.

Overall, at 150 calories for a 1.14 oz bag, it’s not bad… it’s less than the peanut M&M’s and boasts 30% less fat than the leading chocolate brands.

I still prefer the plain (now referred to as the “milk chocolate” flavor) and the peanut, but I won’t turn away a free bag of Pretzel M&M’s or make fun of them when I bump into their large display at CVS! Look for them in the blue bag (note: Crispy M&M’s, also in a blue bag, are now discontinued).

*Web research indicates that Pretzel M&M’s debuted at the Convenience Store Trade Show last October; M&M’s offered free samples via Facebook in mid-April; and the new candy will be in wide distribution this June.

Egg-cellent

May 25, 2010

Fresh as a daisy...

No, I didn’t watch Lost, so stop asking!

I read this tip for telling if eggs are ok to use or not and I had to pass it along.

You can put the egg into a bowl of water (gently). If the egg sinks to the bottom and lies on its side, it’s fresh. If it sinks and stands with the large-end up, use it in the next few days as it’s on its way out. And if it floats, throw it out.

I never knew that!

Copycats

Caroline Kennedy sports Kors

I have seen this one Michael Kors dress on everyone lately — it’s bizarre. I mean, good for him in that clearly he created a dress that everyone loves, but it’s enough already. The first time I saw it was about a month ago on Kelly Ripa, on her morning show. (I believe she actually wore it twice.) Then I saw it in Vogue on some rich socialite, and then somewhere else on Aerin Lauder, who I know if friends with him (and has a new makeup line with him, too). Then this morning Caroline Kennedy was sporting it on Good Morning America, talking about the Profiles in Courage awards. So congratulations, Michael Kors, I think you created the dress of the season. And to all  you fashionistas, boo — it’s time to get a little more creative and stop following the pack! (If you’re into following the pack, you can get it for $1,495.00 at Bergdorf Goodman here. Frankly I can’t believe the thing isn’t sold out with all of the exposure it has been getting.)

Deja Vu: Kelly Ripa in Kors

What’s interesting is that it photographs differently every time — sometimes it looks more pastel-ish, other times it’s more gray tones. In fact if you do click on and look at it on Bergdorf Goodman, if you zoom in you get a totally different pattern on it close up.

Anyway, wear it now because no one would dare take this thing out of her closet next year.

Plenty More

I like the Plenty line from Tracey Reese a lot, and now word comes that they’ll be expanding into shoes, with a price range of $95 – $200. That seems reasonable, depending on what they are. She is one of the few African American women with a line of her own, so I think her success is great for the industry. She has a shop down on Hudson with both her lines, and department stores like Lord & Taylor carry Plenty, so perhaps they’ll carry the shoes as well.

Etc.

They were filming the new Smurf movie out in Times Square today. It’s so funny, because nothing was really happening and the tourists were standing and taking pictures of the crew. I don’t know much about it except that it’s a live-action/animation mix, Hank Azaria plays the evil Gargamel, and Neil Patrick Harris is in it (of course he is!). I have to believe that means there’s some sort of song and dance number…

Brownie Points

May 24, 2010

I was at a birthday party with Austin today and one of the mothers in the class came up to me and asked if my husband was very serious. “No. Why?” Apparently, according to her, he never says hello. So basically she was coming over to tell me that my husband is unfriendly. Can’t I just enjoy the birthday party!

Speaking of parties, today let’s talk about treats. As in brownies, as in really easy ones to make from a box that don’t have a lot of crap in them but still manage to taste pretty darn good. They’re called No Pudge Fudge Brownies, they come in a pink box, and all you have to do is add a 6 ounce cup of Vanilla yogurt. Really. You dump the packet of mix into a bowl, add the yogurt and stir, until it becomes gooey and chocolatey. (At first you will think it’s not enough yogurt, but keep stirring and you’ll see it is.) The simplicity factor makes them a great cooking project for kids.

I think they make it in several flavors, but I’m partial to the original. They’re fat free and there’s nothing artificial nor any hydrogenated oils. I usually buy it at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

One last tip — they can be hard to cut nicely, so your best bet is to make sure they cool fully, and even then you may want to put them in the fridge for a bit to make sure you can cut through easily with a sharp knife. Enjoy!

Just Say No

We use our car about once a month and so we fill up with gas less than that (love NYC living!), so this weekend was the first time I had been at the pump since the oil deluge started in the Gulf. And not that he was going to, but I told Ken not to go to BP. As we’re driving by, I couldn’t believe people were buying gas there. Hello?! They just caused one of the worst environmental disasters of all time. Why in the world would you willingly give your money to them? They have screwed us all. God only knows what that spill will do to our water, our fish, our air, etc. If you’ve read or seen anything about it, it’s clear that they had no regard for safety — it was all about doing things as fast as possible to save and then make more and more money. So speak with your wallets, people, and send a message that we will not tolerate the madness.

Etc.

They called for rain today but it has held off. Which is a bummer because they postponed our building’s rooftop cocktail party, but they didn’t need to. Oh well…

We were at MoMA yesterday for family morning — if you’re a Family Member, they open the museum at 8am and give the kids breakfast and activity booklets. It is something to see your kids lying on the floor in front of a Picasso, drawing. I’m not sure they know how good they have it! But maybe that’s just as well — I guess to them it’s normal.

Chillin' at MoMA

Hope you all had a nice weekend. The official start of summer (Memorial Day weekend) is almost here, so get ready!

Why yes, I just did!

On Saturday, May 22, enter SAVE30 at checkout at anntaylorloft.com and you’ll save 30% off all full-priced merchandise. That’s a good deal!

Especially because I happened upon Loft’s t-shirts the other day, and I think they’re a great buy: excellent colors (14 of ’em), good fit, nice v-neck, and best of all they’re $10. (Which means with the discount they’re $7, for those of you playing at home.) Online only has a scoop neck too, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t vouch for the cut. It’s 60% cotton and 40% modal, so it has some give to it, which makes the fit that much better. And given that white t-shirts go yellow by the of the season and my other tees have been getting these little holes down near the waistline (I think from the zippers on my jeans?), I’d say $7 is about right! Check the shirts out here.

Single of the Week

Let me preface by stating I’m not so into it. But here’s Ken anyway:

If you were a young teen male in the burbs growing up in the early 80s, you closed your bedroom door to do one of four things: play ColecoVision football, examine the sprouting wisps of your burgeoning moustache, “enjoy the fruits of your own labor” or listen to Black Sabbath. Some of the more talented could do all four at once. And at that age, what greater feats are there than scoring an electronic touchdown and spilling some seed to the majestic, soaring voice of Ronnie James Dio, who passed away last weekend at 67? A musician who was nimble enough to make metal a pastiche of skanky girls and guitar solos, as well as a canvas for mystical medieval worlds, Dio also brought metal marketing to the next level, being one of the first to use devil worship as his schtick. Have listen to the post-Ozzy Sabbath “Turn Up the Night” and raise a pair of metal horns to RJD:

Etc.

Last night my friend and I were on the phone and we got on the topic of what we hate about being a parent. For her it was brushing the kids’ teeth and having to send in snack for the whole class. For me it was the lack of sleep and dealing with the other parents (some of them, anyway). LOL — it’s good to have those conversations once in a while. Very therapeutic!

I need to listen to some good music this weekend. I have had a lot of Everything But The Girl going through my head recently, for some inexplicable reason. And I love this — check George Michael out from 1996…I was in the audience in London, and it was fantastic. This one’s for me! 🙂 And you, of course…

Getting Personal

May 20, 2010

Guest blogger Liz had her baby girl (welcome Olivia!) and is back to tell us how she’ll get her post-baby body back into tip top shape, in Australia!
I can’t tell you how many different gym memberships I’ve had. It always begins with the best of intentions. Usually, persuaded by some wonderful special, I sign up and convince myself that I’ve gotten a great deal. In fact, the first month of the gym membership usually seems like a religious experience. There is the renewed faith, “this time will be different,” I tell myself. “I must believe.” The dedication, “I’ve gone to the gym three times this week – I have not sinned.”  And then, quickly, I return to my slovenly ways and miss a work out, then a week and then suddenly, I’ve fallen off the wagon, cursing the gym and vowing in disgust, and convincing myself, now of what a rotten deal I got from the manager, not to go back. Ever!
I’ve also fallen victim to the false hope of gym equipment for the home. I’ve had the treadmill that raised so much hope, only to have my dream shattered – the dream of fitness every day in my own home. And, yes, to make matters worse, the treadmill did become a coat rack (and I was taunted endlessly by my husband) – only until I could figure out how to get it the heck out of my house!
The only gym membership that ever worked for me was the East Bank Club in Chicago. It is not only a gym, but a social experience as well. They have several restaurants, spa services, lounges and family activities. It is a great multi-tasker. However, this is an anomaly in the world of the “gym” experience.
This year, after yet another failed gym experience, my husband and I decided to hire a personal trainer. With two small kids, a third on the way and a very busy lifestyle, a personal trainer seemed like a good option – at least worth a try.
After so much experimentation with gym memberships and sporting equipment, I can now say the personal trainer has worked beautifully. The trainer comes to our home at 6:00 am three times a week. My husband and I train together, and if you get the right trainer, they can personalize the experience for each person.
Although many mornings are dark and cold at 6:00 am and we may not feel like working out, when that doorbell rings, we faithfully go downstairs, answer the door and start our work out. It is by far the best value that I’ve ever spent on fitness, and certainly the most efficient with our busy schedules.
So, if you find yourself pressed for time with past failed gym experiences and a desire to have exercise in your life, do a little research and find a personal trainer that you’ll be comfortable with and that will come to your home at 6:00 am. You won’t regret it!

Watch and Weep

May 19, 2010

It’s network Upfront season, which basically means that the big 4 (and the CW) are trotting out next year’s schedule for advertisers, and making hard decisions on who stays, and who goes.. Which means you may be saying bye to some old favorites…or not.

The big story on cable is that HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm is coming back, and it will be set in NYC. And of course, Conan O’Brien will unveil his new TBS show in the fall. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have reupped with their contracts, so look forward to more Daily Show and Report fun.

No new adventures for Christine?

But this week is all about the networks. CBS had a problem because many of their shows were doing ok, but they were old. And they needed to try something new. So bye-bye Ghost Whisperer and New Adventures of Old Christine. (Although maybe not forever — rumor has it that ABC wants to pick up both of them.) Cold Case and 3 other shows also got the heave-ho at the Eye.

Speaking of ABC, they had a big hit with Modern Family and are now turning their attention to 10pm and dramas: they’re unveiling a new one every night. Two have Michael Imperioli (Sopranos) and Michael  Chiklis (The Shield) in them. Shonda Rimes, the Grey’s Anatomy creator, has a new one: Off the Map.

NBC has a lot of time to fill after the Leno debacle. Weirdly, Parks and Recreation missed out on the post-Office time slot (it went to new sitcom Outsourced). Fox apparently threw a great party which went on til all hours complete with 70s and 80s cover band. In fact, the party was reportedly so fun, no one really cared about the stars or the shows.

And the big news at the CW is adios, Melrose Place. We’ll always have…re-runs of the original Melrose Place.

Happy watching!

Right, Frank!

This website posted a letter that ‘ol Blue Eyes sent to a Los Angeles newspaper about George Michael 20 years ago, after GM was complaining in print about the burdens of stardom. Kind of hilarious. To see the actual letter, click here. Here’s the transcript:

FRANK SINATRA

September 9, 1990

Dear Friends,

When I saw your Calendar cover today about George Michael, “the reluctant pop star,” my first reaction was he should thank the good Lord every morning when he wakes up to have all that he has., And that’ll make two of us thanking God every morning for all that we have.

I don’t understand a guy who lives “in hopes of reducing the strain of his celebrity status.” Here’s a kid who “wanted to be a pop star since I was about 7 years old.” And now that he’s a smash performer and songwriter at 27 he wants to quit doing what tons of gifted youngsters all over the world would shoot grandma for – just one crack at what he’s complaining about.

Come on George, Loosen up. Swing, man, Dust off those gossamer wings and fly yourself to the moon of your choice and be grateful to carry the baggage we’ve all had to carry since those lean nights of sleeping on buses and helping the driver unload the instruments

And no more of that talk about “the tragedy of fame.” The tragedy of fame is when no one shows up and you’re singing to the cleaning lady in some empty joint that hasn’t seen a paying customer since Saint Swithin’s day. And you’re nowhere near that; you’re top dog on the top rung of a tall ladder called Stardom, which in latin means thanks-to-the-fans who were there when it was lonely.

Talent must not be wasted. Those who have it – and you obviously do or today’s Calendar cover article would have been about Rudy Vallee – those who have talent must hug it, embrace it, nurture it and share it lest it be taken away from you as fast as it was loaned to you.

Trust me. I’ve been there.

(Signed, ‘Frank Sinatra’)

© 1990 Frank Sinatra

Etc.

Good and tired I am!

Hope your week is coming along…

Doggone it!

May 18, 2010

You know that “imagination” song from Willy Wonka that Gene Wilder sings? That is a great song. They are using it in a commercial and every time it comes on I think how great the song is. Although I’ve always found Willy W. to be kinda creepy. Let’s check out the original:


In this post, guest blogger Rebecca finds companionship where she least expects it:

One night last week I had to take my dog, Zipper, for a walk.  It was basically the last thing I wanted to do.  It’s cold, dark, 10pm and I’m wiped from my day.  Trust me there were no “sweet moon beams” going through my head.  I’m trying to get the dog to make and get back in as fast as possible.

Out of nowhere, a red car stops in front of me and the window rolls down.  I’m thinking, “who the hell is out in the pitch black stopping to chat?”  As the window rolls down I see my elderly neighbor’s face appear through the not so sweet moonbeams.  “Hi Rebecca,” she says. “Hi,” I say (having no idea what her name is, all that pops into my head is the old lady dogwalker).  I gave her that name because she has religiously walked her dog past my house 3 times a day for the last 3 years!  “There you are walking your dog again,” she says to me.  No DUH!  That’s right the mutt is 6 months old and needs to be walked.  As I’m ready to make a mad dash back to my house, she turns her interior car light on and starts telling me about some book club her and my other old lady neighbor go to in town.

“That’s great for you, can you leave me alone?” I’m thinking.  No such luck. She then goes on to read the back cover of the book jacket.  She informs me that she’d love me to join her and every other older person in my town next month for the book club.  Lucky me, the author will be there for me to meet.   He just so happens to live in New York City.  “Great,” I say.  Is this chat over yet?  It’s beyond torture. I’m thinking to myself, I have my own mother and 94 year-old grandmother to convince me of things I should be doing.  To top it off the book is about a father and his mentally ill 15 year old daughter.

The irony of this run in is that I have asked a dozen of my friends over the last few years if they wanted to do a book club with me.  Not one friend has stepped up, except the old lady dogwalker down the street.  It’s times like this when you find out who your true friends are!

When you get invited to a party, do you immediately respond that you’re coming (or not), wait a few days to confirm your schedule, wait til the last possible minute or just never respond and then show up (or not)? It’s always amazing to me how many people fall into the latter categories. Do these people not understand what it takes to plan a party? Not only do most places charge by the head, but many have a strict limit on attendees, so if you want to invite some other people that for whatever reason didn’t make it into the first group (commonly referred to as a B list but sometimes just really cut because of space), it makes it difficult to extend a last minute invite if the day before you realize you  have the room.

I hear from countless people how invitees don’t even bother to respond — and this is for informal as well as formal affairs, such as a wedding. This leaves the host in the unfortunate position of sending out emails or placing phone calls to try and track the answer down. And there doesn’t seem to be a pattern — some end up saying, “Oh yeah, we’re coming” and others say they have other plans. We had a few people (relatives, actually) who rsvp’d yes to our wedding but then didn’t show, leaving us out hundreds of dollars and with a table that had empty seats, not so much fun for the other people seated there.

Unless it’s a keg party, there are favors to buy, food to prepare or order, activities to plan…so the next time you’re lucky enough to be invited somewhere, rsvp in a timely fashion, and do yourself and the host a good service. Anything less is just plain rude.

Etc.

I decided today that both party stores and craft stores depress me.

I’m away for the weekend without my kids and it just feels weird! I miss them. But I did go out with once of my longtime childhood friends last night, which was fun. The restaurant and then bar we went to were packed. And I was amazed that a mixed drink didn’t cost $12, which means I really need to get out of the city more often.

Hope you had a good one!