Just as I suspected, we went from cold and rainy to hot, hot, hot…where’s spring when you need it?? So many cute spring jackets, so little occasion to wear them. Thanks global warming!

Anyway, I’m still rockin’ the long weekend, but I wanted to pass on some ideas if you’re looking to beat the heat:

— Go see Bridesmaids. Really, it’s funny. And nothing makes me happier than a truly funny adult comedy on a scorcher of a summer afternoon. (Other past examples: Wedding Crashers, Hangover — the first one, not the sequel out now, which I heard is less enjoyable than an actual hangover…) Kirsten Wiig is good, Melissa McCarthy from Mike and Molly is hysterical, and Maya Rudolph still leaves me wondering why anyone puts her in anything. But even she can’t detract from a well-executed script. Not high art, just fun. Worth your time…and the ticket price. (I also have high hopes for Bad Teacher, from its preview. It comes out mid-June, so we’ll see. Cameron Diaz may actually be in something that isn’t awful.)

— Eliminate at least 2 things from your makeup routine. Seriously. It’s just going to slide off your face. I’m finding I like some concealer around the eye, a little liner on the top lid, close to the lash line, smudged a bit, and then some white shadow up by the eyebrow to life your eye. And that’s it. No full-on eyeshadow; no mascara to bleed down your face. Just fresh and easy.

— Take the bus. Yes, you could walk. And it might even be faster. But when it’s really boiling, those 2 crosstown blocks will feel that much cooler riding in air-conditioned comfort. That’s why God created the unlimited Metro card. You’ll arrived feeling fresh instead of sweaty. You may even get a seat so you can check your email.

Etc.

Hope you all had a relaxing Memorial Day. A big shout out to each and every soldier past and present, who do what they do so we can all do what we do, without a second thought. Let freedom ring.

Since the rapture seems to have postponed itself, why not plan an outing to the beautiful High Line? (For readers who aren’t in NYC, this is the elevated train tracks that were left overgrown and abandoned for many, many years, that have now been reworked into a gorgeous park/pathway with wildflowers and amazing views.) They just opened up some more of it, so your stroll on higher ground can be that much longer. Now that our resident Upper East Sider and guest blogger Bret is working down in Union Square, he seems to be checking out all that downtown has to offer. Welcome Bret!:

Recently, my wife and I walked along the High Line near the West Side Highway and exited at the north end at 20th street.  At the bottom of the stairs, someone had erected a colorful sign attached to a pole with the word HOPE surrounded by flowers and blank pieces of paper for passersby to jot down their hopes (see photo).  Many of the notes were handwritten on small price tags connected with string, making it easy to read them quickly one after another.  In addition to the scraps were notes scribbled on receipts and transit passes from other cities (such as Boston and San Francisco) demonstrating how people from all over had visited.  There were hundred of notes and I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of private thoughts and personal poetry.  There were plain vanilla hopes for world peace, joy, love, etc., but there were enough interesting ones that we remained glued to the spot for 15 minutes, feeling like voyeurs.

I don’t want to ruin it for you, and it’s worth checking out, but here are a handful of my favorite comments:

I hope all my two children’s highest aspirations are realized

I hope everything stops sucking soon

I hope we make solar our energy

I hope that you and I will end up loving each other

I hope the Knicks will win a title

I hope to get back to work in NY

I hope people realize the beauty of the things around them

I hope that Gilad will be free very soon

I wish for this moment to last forever

I hope we can be boring together

And the winner:  I hope the nasty loud neighbors move out tomorrow and are replaced by a respectful friend who will find a lover.

Breathe Free

May 20, 2011

It has been documented ad infinitum how awful this allergy season has been — and I can offer this newsflash firsthand, as I have been suffering. But my six year old son has really been zonked this year. Typically he gets itchy eyes, but this year he got that and so much more, including recurring nose bleeds. If you have ever had to wake up to find your child has had a nosebleed at night, you know it is like coming upon a mass murder scene: blood all over the sheets, pajamas, dried and smeared on their face and hands. Lovely.

Alleviating it is a tricky thing because the recommendation is not to spray anything medicated up the nose until the kids are much older. After four nosebleeds in three days, Austin’s doctor recommended Ayr No-Drip Saline Nasal Gel Sinus Spray, and it is seriously great.

It’s not medicated, so there aren’t any side effects to worry about. It has aloe in it, so it soothes the irritated area and actually makes it feel better. Austin was worried it would hurt, but upon the first spray he smiled and said, “Oooo, that feels good!” Unlike a saline rinse, it doesn’t drip out so the relief lasts longer. We’ve been doing a spray in each nostril every morning and night, and since we started it, no nose bleeds!

I recommend rinsing the tip after each application. And if more than one person in your house needs it, buy each person his or her own bottle and label them — because you’re going up the nose with it, it’s potentially an easy way to spread nasty germs.

It runs about $8. I bought some at Duane Reade as well as drugstore.com — in fact on drugstore.com right now it’s buy one, get the second at half off. Big thumbs up for this one!

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken. Whatever.:

In honor of Maria Shriver, I thought it’d be appropriate to post a song about a man doing a woman wrong in love. Enter Cults, and their tune “Abducted.” In defense of Arnold (oh boy, I’m gonna hear about this), I’m pretty sure that he told Maria about the birth of his love child 10 years ago. I just think it took her 10 years to understand what he was saying.


Etc.

Oh, Arnold. Is it really that shocking? Just sad, really.

I went to a cooking class today as a team building exercise for work. We made some really great stuff, including homemade ravioli, ricotta gnocchi and molten chocolate cake. I will have to post the gnocchi recipe because it was ridiculously easy.

I am definitely ready for the weekend. Hopefully it won’t rain!!

Application Nirvana

May 17, 2011

As many of you may remember, I was struggling with a Motorola phone whose batteries would only hold a charge for a couple of hours before it needed to find a plug, since I was waiting and waiting for the iphone to come out on Verizon’s network. Well, it finally did, and within a few weeks I was in possession of a new iphone and an ipad 2 (the result of a very generous gift). So now I am on the hunt for good apps, free and low cost alike. So far I have Fruit Ninja (addictive game for the whole family), the NY Times (stay informed) and the Kodak Gallery app (to show pics of my kids). Today, guest blogger Liz weighs in with some of her favs, but if any of you out there have good ones to recommend, please email me or reply in the comments section. App you very much!!

We recently took a six hour driving trip with our kids to the Outback and had the DVD player stocked up and ready to go, but our kids could have cared less because we had a juiced up ipad and an HTC phone on hand.

Finally, I’ve ditched my old Nokia phone and switched to one with Android technology.  I have discovered application heaven and, yes, they are all free!!!

Here are a few applications that we are finding particularly cool right now:

Google Sky Maps This amazing program lets you look up at the nighttime sky and learn about the heavens.

Tiny Flashlight & LED – Yes, this is a flash light application that turns your phone into a flashlight using the flash on your camera – genius!

Epicurious – Hundreds of recipes at your fingertips.

Daily Chinese  – I am sure that they have every language available, but this one is fun.

Dolch Sight Words – There are many applications available and this is a great way to get your kindergartner to learn their sight words.

If you’ve got any favorites, please share!!!

I’ve been noticing that more and more companies are starting to get the message that people don’t want to put stuff on their bodies that are full of petrochemicals, which is good news for all of us. Whereas “all natural” has pretty much consistently translated to “higher price tag,” the more companies that jump into the game, the better for consumers.

At Target recently I noticed Neutrogena is the latest to come out with a line, Neutrogena Naturals. They bill it as “no harsh chemical sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, dyes, phthalates.” I decided to try the facial cleanser and with the purchase, I got a free lip balm. I haven’t used the facial cleanser yet, but I have the lip balm in my gym bag and I use it just about every morning. It has a pleasing, light scent and it keeps my lips hydrated through my workout, which is all I really need. Products in the line seem to run from $2 to $8. Thumbs up to Neutrogena for coming up with an all natural formula that doesn’t break the bank.

Missing the Bullseye

Speaking of Target, I haven’t seen it in person but I was underwhelmed by Calypso’s line that debuted there earlier this month. (You can check it out, as I did, online here.) But I have high hopes that the recently announced Missoni collaboration could be good. It’s slated to have 400 items and hits stores September 13th, just before my birthday!! 🙂

Single of the Week

Before I get to Ken, I must give kudos where kudos are due to him for picking Duck Sauce’s “Barbra Streisand” weeks before it exploded into the mainstream, including Glee and commercials for Vitamin Water and Express. We bring it to you first, Favs fans…here’s this week’s — check it out before everyone else does!!

You heard it here first: Mayor Bloomberg is running for president in 2012. Here are his three main campaign promises:
1. A rat in every kitchen.
2. No hooker left behind.
3. Rock anthemy singles of the week like The Lonely Forest:

Etc.

Well, yesterday George Michael announced a brand new 22 city European concert tour. I think I may need to go — he’ll be backed by a full orchestra and is playing some of the world’s best opera houses. Road trip!!

Allergies are SO bad this year — my poor son got socked with it this morning and had trouble breathing. I had to take him to the doctor and it seems to be under control.

Hope this week is treating you well…

Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day!! We haven’t had a recipe in a while…so here’s guest blogger Michelle with a really juicy treat:

I’ve heard people say, “chicken is boring.“  I disagree — there are so many great ways to cook a chicken — to me, the hard part is figuring out which way to do it.  In the end, as long as the chicken is cooked completely, and yet juicy, I don‘t think you can really go wrong.

Some people make a big deal about the chicken breast; a cutlet in and of itself, to me, is not as good as chicken cooked whole or on the bone. I recently found a delicious recipe in Food & Wine for a Honey and Lemon Glazed Roast Chicken.  It was beautiful to look at and it tasted great.

For this recipe, all came out moist and tasty with the flavors of rosemary, garlic and lemon.  The skin was beautifully crisped and very delicious — mouth-wateringly picture perfect.

If you do decide to try it, I recommend lining your roasting pan with foil.  I didn’t and when I was done there was a huge burnt mess that was very difficult to clean.  Lesson learned — foil is my friend.

Here’s the recipe — it tastes like chicken all right — really good chicken.  Enjoy.

Honey and Lemon Glazed Roast Chicken 

2 tablespoons of  honey

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon lower sodium soy sauce

4- pound chicken

Salt

3 large rosemary sprigs

3 garlic cloves, quartered

4 lemon wedges

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the honey, lemon juice and soy sauce.  Set the chicken on a roasting rack.  Season the cavity with salt and stuff with rosemary, garlic and lemon wedges.  Brush honey glaze over the chicken and season lightly with salt.  Roast in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.

2. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Roast about another 50 minutes until the juices run clear when the thighs are pierced.  Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 15 minutes…then enjoy!

Better than Homemade

May 3, 2011

You go to bed early on a Sunday night and what do you know? Someone helicopters in and rubs out Osama bin Laden. Who’s soft on terrorism now??

Between the royal wedding and this, Matt Lauer’s head is going to explode.

Which is why we need to get a little grounded. So here’s Denielle with some recommendations that are better than homemade. Time savings and tastes good? We’ll take it!

In my house, I’m the cook. The griller, the baker, the salad maker….but I’m also a person pinched for time. So when Bon Appétit published a list of things that are better-then-homemade, I jumped on it. It seems that what these items have in common is a commitment to all natural ingredients (I’m going to the grocery store today to double check that Pepperidge Farm box). Let’s be honest, every shelf stable item in the grocery store really does taste like chemicals. In some cases, the chemicals are yummy, but if you are what you eat, eating clean is the way to go.

Bon Appetit’s Better than Homemade List:

  • Rao’s Marinara Tomato Sauce – this really is the best on the market. ‘Nuff said.
  • Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry Sheets – I’ve had their turnovers, made from the same flaky pastry, and those are yummy, so I imagine that these are decent, too. I guess I just need to find a reason to make something in a puff pastry shell to try for myself. Fortunately the Pepperidge Farm website has lots of tips and recipes for me. And while it’s unlikely I will log on to pepperidgefarm.com and make one of their recipes, the site is very user friendly and the pictures do make me want to entertain, so I give them props for that, too.
  • Isigny Ste. Mere Creme Chantilly – I cannot personally speak to this one though Bon Appetit assures me it uses REAL cream and sugar and is unlike any canned whipped topping out there. It really shouldn’t be too hard to beat those super-chemical concoctions (which I love, btw).  Apparently it is available at Costco. I’m not a member so I will continue to hope they expand their distribution.
  • Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies – THE. BEST. COOKIE. EVER.
  • Uncle Dougie’s Chicago Style Chicken Wing Marinade – again, I cannot personally speak to this one but it’s on my list to try.
  • Simply Lemonade – I prefer their Raspberry Lemonade (works well as a mixer, too).  All lemonade is sweet and needs to be cut with extra water, but concentration aside, this lemonade rocks.
  • Marie Callender’s Frozen Chicken Pot Pie – Decent and probably the best chicken pot pie on the market, but I really question the “better than homemade” claim. It almost made me doubt the whole list, but I’ve enjoyed enough of the other products Bon Appetit recommends here to believe that the writer knows what’s up.
  • Whole Foods Pre-made Pizza Dough – Fun for kids and yummy.

Den’s additions (clearly, the Bon Appétit writer did not venture into Trader Joe’s to complete her survey!)

  • Trader Joe’s Spinach Artichoke Dip – this one actually DID beat a homemade version in an unofficial BBQ taste test in my neighborhood.
  • Stacie’s Pita Chips (or the Trader Joe’s Low Guilt Pita Chips which are also made by Stacie’s)  – how hard is it to toast pita bread, really? Apparently too hard for me. The Stacie’s chips are great and a necessary addition to the above dip.
  • Stonewall Kitchen’s Balsamic Fig Vinaigrette – a yummy, slightly sweet dressing for when I’m lazy and don’t make my own.
  • Alexa Panko Breaded Onion Rings – hard to say if these are better than homemade because I have never made, nor do I ever plan to make, onion rings. These are tasty.
  • Trader Joe’s Chicken Parmesan – try the one in the fridge section (NOT frozen).
  • Trader Joe’s Pesto and Fresh Tomato Flatbread – this rectangular, pizza-like item is really good. I don’t know how TJ’s freezes tomatoes so they actually taste like tomatoes when cooked, but they do it.

So, with mother’s day around the corner, make mom a nice, homemade meal (or at least one that tastes like homemade!).

Check out the article here.