Lower East View

July 29, 2011

We got the first tomatoes from our CSA this week and let me tell you, they are TASTY. And I don’t even like tomatoes! It’s like a whole other thing when they come straight from the farm. A little pepper, a little mozzarella and mmmmm…

We did a walking/eating tour on the Lower East Side today and went to some good places. I recommend Prosperity Dumplings on Eldridge Street. THe dumpling skin is thin so the dough doesn’t overwhelm the filling, plus you can get 10 for $2. Can’t beat that anywhere, let alone in Manhattan! They also had a vegetarian scallion pancake, which was more like a carrot and cucumber sandwich on sesame bread. Super tasty, and only $1. The other place I would go back to was Doughnut Plant on Grand Street (there is also one on 23rd). They have cake donuts that weren’t greasy and heavy like typical donut gut bombs. The chocolate was particularly good. And if for some strange reason you’re looking for bubble gum cigars or any hard to find candy, check out Economy Candy. They have EVERYTHING. Really crazy, from peanut chews to giant bags of gummy bears in all colors to hard to find Pez. I feel like if I took my kids there, their heads would explode. Sugar shock indeed.

Roll With It

This weekend Uniqlo is setting up a roller rink on the Highline. It will be up til September 26th at 30th and 10th Avenue. For $12 you get to skate and you get rentals. Plus they’re setting up a pop up store nearby. Sounds like fun!

Single of the Week

The NY Times had a great article this past week on Kei Igawa, the great black mark on the Yankee’s balance sheet who is soaking up $46 million playing ball for double-A Trenton and triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. With almost all of that money in the bank, he must be going crazy at the Scranton outlets. But, as it turns out, the Yanks haven’t soured on picking up the best Japanese talent, because they’ll soon be announcing their latest signing: Yoko Ono. And when she’s in the locker room taking off her plum bowler and knee-high stockings for the pinstripes, this is what she’ll be blasting – the best Eminem song of all time:
Etc.
I am tired! Not sure why this week was such a beast, but there you have it.
We are off to Mystic and Rhinebeck this weekend. It will be nice to beat the heat near the water, eating seafood.
Hope you enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Oh Those Dog Days…

July 26, 2011

First of all, let’s all say an early “Happy Birthday!” to our guest blogger Den, who’s getting us all ready to do more than fry in the month of August. And given how hot July has been, I’m scared! So get ready…

I find it hilarious that if you Google “Holidays and Special Days” you will find that there is a seemingly endless supply of celebratory days/weeks/months.  Some, like National Chocolate Chip Day (May 15) is clearly the brainchild of a marketer at Nestle. Some, like National Wiggle Your Toes Day (August 6) is just plain odd and feels like an Urban Myth that got perpetuated with the invention of the Internet. If you write it, it is true.

Given August is my birthday month, I decided to take a critical look at the key days in August and provide some party-tips and suggestions for marking these once-a-year occasions:

August 2 – National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. Like it NEEDS a special day! I celebrate ice cream sandwiches every opportunity I get. How to celebrate: chase down your local ice cream truck and go Good Humor. It’s the only legitimate place to get an ice cream sandwich, in my opinion.

August 3 – National Watermelon Day. If you are too spent from all the ice cream sandwich consumption on August 2, you can take a pass on this. It is not a congressionally mandated national holiday.

August 5 – Work Like A Dog Day. This day honors those who carry more than their load and work like a dog. How to celebrate: buy Cheryl Family (or anyone else you know who works like a dog) an ice cream sandwich and say, “Thanks.” (Editor’s note: Thanks Den!:)

August 6 – National Mustard Day. And I quote, “This special day was created by the National Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb, Wi.” I don’t know what is more puzzling: that there is a mustard museum or that they felt they needed to legitimize themselves by creating an annual day to recognize a condiment. No celebration needed.

August 7 – Friendship Day (the first Sunday in August, actually). How to celebrate: hug a friend. Reconnect with someone you haven’t talked to in months.

August 9 – Book Lover’s Day. Note: this is not national and there is much inconsistency over the actual date of this quasi holiday. How to celebrate: pass on a book you’ve just finished to a friend and go to a library/bookstore/ebook store to get yourself a new one!

August 10 – National S’Mores Day. You know what you need to do to celebrate.

August 16 – Tell a Joke Day. Seriously.

August 26 – Women’s Equality Day. It commemorates the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. How to celebrate: first and foremost, make sure you are registered to vote, and make sure your female friends 18+ are, too. Then sit back with a good book and an ice cream sandwich.

Thanks, August.

 

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot

July 22, 2011

Crate and Barrel sent me this email to tout all of their bathroom products, and what I particularly found interesting is how they’re displaying the towels on the wall. It’s so cute and useful! (Love that.)

The only problem? When I clicked through, it’s not for sale! Way to go Crate and Barrel. But I still like the idea a lot — I’m sure Bed, Bath and Beyond would have something to approximate it. It’s a clean line and a great space saver if you’ve run out of drawer or shelf space. Plus it encourages you to get some lovely towels!

Slap Heard Round the World

I’ve been thinking about whether or not I would slap down someone who tried to put a pie in my husband’s face. I think first I would have slapped my husband if he had authorized hacking into a dead girl’s cell phone…but I digress.

Etc.

Yes, it’s HOT. Phew. There’s just no relief from it! I powered down today and turned off the overhead light in my office. Because if there’s a blackout, we are seriously screwed. My plan of attack is to wear as little clothes and makeup as possible while still looking presentable. Cotton sundresses and sandals. My daughter looked absolutely adorable in braids today.

Drink lots of water!

Neighborhood Joint

July 19, 2011

Well, I had to give in today. I had been coughing and blowing my nose for a good 10 days and when I woke up yesterday with a swollen eye, I knew it was time to go see the doctor. (Nothing like being a houseguest with 18 people and having to show up to breakfast with sunglasses — indoors.)

Anyway I got my diagnosis and a prescription, and he did tell me something I didn’t know: in the first five days of something like this, there’s nothing you can do so don’t bother going to the doctor. At that point you don’t know what course it will take. But after five days if it hasn’t gone away, time to get to the office. So I guess I could have gone five days earlier. Let’s hope the meds kick in soon because I would really like to hear out of my right ear again…

My doctor is in midtown, and this might not be a newsflash for anyone, but midtown is insane. As in insanely crowded with tourists. Many of them foreign. And though I love that they are coming here to spend their euros, standing behind them in line at Argo Tea while they try and figure out the money is no fun. So to all you native and visiting New Yorkers, avoid midtown as much as possible.

MMMMMMac and Chicharron!

And if you come downtown, I have a restaurant recommendation for you. Coppelia is the kind of neighborhood spot every ‘hood needs. They’ve been working the kinks out on the menu and with the service, and I think I am ready to recommend it! (Even though one of the casualties on the menu was one of my favorites!) It’s a diner but with a decidedly cuban flair. They’ve got salads, empanadas, sandwiches, burgers and entrees along with sides of plaintains, rice and beans and yucca fries.

The prices are very reasonable and just about everything I’ve tried has been good: spinach salad with goat cheese and figs, grilled corn, arroz con pollo are all tasty. There’s no kids menu but my little ones make a meal out of the side rice and beans or empanadas. The mac and cheese with chicharron (pork fat) is particularly decadent and tasty. Most things are under $16.

If you’re a fan of Yerba Buena or Toloache, it’s the same chef (Julian Medina). It’s at 207 West 14th Street (at 7th Avenue) — give it a try the next time you’re in the ‘hood. And for dessert, you can always head a few doors down to Donut Pub, which put Dunkin’ Donuts out of business half a block away. Go non-chains!

Etc.

Between the mess (and increasingly ugly) news with the Murdoch empire and the ineffective “negotiating” on the debt ceiling, it’s enough to make a girl watch E! (That’s when I know things are bad.)

At least there’s no heat wave…oh wait, there is! With more to come.

Crank up the AC and pour yourself a nice tall glass of iced tea!!!

Bugged

July 15, 2011

Well the temperature has fallen (in fact as I write this I am downright chilly with the windows open!) but my cold is still with me, clogging up my ears. I can’t taste anything. Ugh! The worst.

There was a case of lice in my son’s camp home group this week. Now, lice was around when I was a child, and lice has been found in his classroom at school, and I have told my husband many times that if one of our children get lice, it will drive me over the edge. Nervous. Breakdown.

But I ran into a friend yesterday morning, who informed me her daughter had the dreaded hair infestation, and she survived by taking her to a place called Hair Fairies. (1026 6th Avenue in NYC, but they are in different cities across the country and ship their products anywhere.) She said it took 4 hours, but they de-loused her then and there. On their website it says they use all natural products.

Look, I am sure I will teeter on or perhaps over the edge if we have to deal with a lice infestation. (I start to itch just thinking about it.) But it is good to know that there’s somewhere you can go to set things straight. If you need it, and I pray you don’t, check out their site here.

It’s Here!

I am sure I have talked about my love of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and that whenever I go to Arizona or California I make sure I plan a visit there for an ice blended treat. (Think Frappuccino but BETTER!) I have wondered many times why they have not come east. Well, apparently in August they will open the first Coffee Bean in NYC at 39th and Broadway, with 2 more locations to follow soon after. Rock on!

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken:

YOU: Ken, I’ve got a question.
KEN: Shoot.
YOU: Man, you are totally ripped. How can a human being have abs like that?
KEN: Thank you. Although, since we’re at work, in a meeting with clients, I think I should put my shirt on.
YOU: Sure, if you must. I have another question.
KEN: Shoot.
YOU: I love the Single of the Week. But I can’t always wait a full week for the next song. What can I do?
KEN: Then let me give you Singles for the Next Decade or Two. NPR’s All Songs Considered has created a 24/7 stream of every song ever played in its 10-year history. Check it out here.

Etc.

I’m very excited for my daughter’s Sleeping Beauty recital tomorrow. She has told me every night that I can’t forget my camera!

NYC is reeling from the events this week where an 8 year old boy got lost walking home from day camp in Brooklyn, only to be abducted, killed and dismembered. So, so utterly awful. Hug your loved ones a little tighter…

 

Oh, vacation — so good and yet re-entry is so hard!!

We had a great time during our week off, combining a few days at the beach with a few days around Hersheypark. The only drag was I got a cold partway through — summer colds are the worst! I’m still trying to get rid of it.

Many of you may take your families (or yourselves!) to amusement parks — Hersheypark, Disney, Sesame Place, Sea World and the like — we have a strategy that I promise will make your day more enjoyable: book a reservation for lunch at an indoor restaurant with air conditioning and table service. Really.

At some of these places, it costs a little more and oftentimes comes with up close and personal visits with characters, but it is worth it. At Sea World we had lunch with Shamu. At Sesame we were shut out of lunch (and had to wait for almost an hour in the miserable cafeteria line) but had dinner with Elmo and friends. At Disneyland Paris we had lunch on the pirate ship at the Pirates of the Caribbean, and dinner with the Princesses at Auberge de Cendrillon (ok, the latter was insanely expensive, but that was the exception).

At Hershey, we had been many times and eaten our overpriced Subway sandwich out in the hot sun time and time again. This time, I asked my sister (the Hershey expert) if there were any inside, air conditioned restaurants. She said no but then remembered there was a place just outside the gate — it used to be called Tudor Grill, but now it’s Hersheypark Place, and it’s on OpenTable! You have to get your hand stamped for re-entry, but it’s worth the few steps outside the gates. First, if I haven’t mentioned it, it’s air conditioned. (90 degree heat takes its toll — on you and the little ones.) Second, you can sit like human beings in a not crowded room and order decent food off a menu. Sandwiches, salads and yes, beer too. Third, the service is incredibly friendly and helpful — they’ll answer any questions you might have. Fourth, the costume characters come in to entertain the kids — Hersheybar Guy even took our picture. And fifth, they give the kids Hershey Kisses and Hershey pins as souvenirs…come on!

The only caveat I will give is that a lot of these experiences fill up, so you need to reserve in advance. And there’s not really a rhyme or reason to it. Sesame Place did a huge lunch business, but our waiter at Hershey told us dinner there was usually the much busier time.

Those long days are always so draining, and taking an hour or so out to rest and refuel always makes it more bearable. After doing this a bunch of times, I definitely think it’s a must.

And make sure you have your camera!

Sandwich Anyone?

Underrated (or under-utilized) sandwich, courtesy of Elvis: 2 slices of whole wheat bread, toasted, peanut butter, sliced banana with a drizzle of artisanal honey. Mmmm! Makes a nice breakfast or a light dinner, with a cold glass of milk. (I believe Elvis also liked bacon on it and it was deep fried — but we know what happened to poor Elvis…)

Etc.

You know the old, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” saying? I’m prepared to say it’s actually everything. Heat, humidity — it’s all unbearable. Especially with a cold.

Today was getting everyone off to camp day! Our daughter started ballet camp — very cute. There will be a recital on Friday, and she already told me, “Mom, don’t forget your camera!”

Hope all is well…

On Their Own

July 1, 2011

As I write this, my 3 year old daughter has been gone to her grandparents for a visit for all of 24 hours and we miss her so much already! My son tried to put on a brave face but he admitted he missed her “a little” — which is why he wanted to call her. My nanny told me she was pretending my daughter was at school because she missed her so much. My husband remarked on how quiet our apartment was, because while my son sits and reads some books, my daughter is always singing, dancing and chatting. Which is why it takes her over an hour to eat breakfast. Every day. And I miss cuddling with her and laughing at her silly jokes. But even though we all miss her, independence is a good thing. (She, by the way, was so excited to go, she told everyone — our doormen, her friends — that she was leaving.)

So whether it’s grandparents’ house, camp or a sleepover at a friend’s, separation can bolster your child in ways being by your side never can. Of course, you need to gauge what feels right for you and your child. I wasn’t going to send Addison for another year, but she insisted she was ready. My parents live by the beach and so she was excited about the rides on the boardwalk and the ocean. There is plenty for her to do. She was ready.

Though you will send them with a list of instructions, being on their own lets them speak for themselves and make choices, both good and bad ones. It forces them to express themselves to others, rather than rely on you to be their voice to the world. Little by little, it prepares them for a time when they will go off into the world, without the familiar day-to-day orbit of their family. And deny it or not, that day will come.

For my daughter, a visit to the grandparents alone means she’s the center of attention, and as the second born, how often does that happen? She doesn’t have her older brother to bother her, and she can indulge in ways we never let her. (TV when she wakes up! Popsicles after dinner!) Bottom line, it’s a good time — who can argue with that? But we still miss her.

Good Deals

Flex Mussels has an unbeatable happy hour deal every weekday from 5:30 to 7:30: bottomless mussels and a beer for $20! We checked it out this week and I can vouch that it’s a genuine deal. They don’t hassle you — you just need to sit at the bar or at the counter by the bar…Restaurant Week is coming up starting July 11th so make your reservations now! Click here for a list of participating restaurants…Everyone is trying to get rid of their summer merchandise — The Gap and Banana Republic are almost giving stuff away this weekend; Loft has everything 40% off, and Vince has things 60% off. So if you need something, now would be the time!

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken:

The good news: there are reports that President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen may step down. The bad news: this fall, he’ll be taking over for Regis. But let’s not judge “Live With Ali Abdullah and Kelly” just yet. All it takes is some fantastic guests, fabulous outfits and a jaunty, cozy theme song like this week’s single by Beirut, and ABC’s got another daytime hit in the making.

Etc.

Next week is July 4th and we’ll be on vacation, which means Family Favs will be off, too. Hope you have a wonderful long holiday weekend with your friends and family and I look forward to sharing more when I return!