Who can stop the rain at MoMA? You can.

Who can stop the rain at MoMA? You can.

There really is no better time to be in NYC than the springtime, even if it has been a little chillier than normal. With the sun shining, birds chirping and the flowers blooming in every park and window box, it really makes a stroll to do just about anything that much more pleasant. (And — always look on the bright side — the chillier spring has given me a chance to wear more spring jackets!) Anyway it has given me the chance to get out and do a bunch of fun things around the city.

If it’s a really nice day out, head to Madison Square Park to see the Orly Genger sculptures in the park. She dyes fishing nets and molds them into interesting large shapes. This installation is red, yellow and blue, and the curves are oddly hypnotic and definitely cheery. You can grab lunch at the Shake Shack if the line isn’t too long, or head across the street to Eataly for some tasty takeout to eat in the park.

The punk exhibit at The Met is worth a look, if only for the way they use a/v to create a full sensory overload. My favorite room is the one showcasing high fashion made from mundane objects. It’s amazing what can be done with a plain ‘ol plastic bag. Go early to avoid the crowds — we were there at 10am on a Sunday morning and we sailed through. Check out the gift shop at the end of the show, if only to browse the safety pin rings and the Radarte t-shirt that Rodarte designed for the show. (I liked it but had a hard time justifying the $115 price tag, so I skipped it.) The main Met gift shop has a really good selection of note cards if you’re in the need, as well as an interesting kids section.

MoMA has the rain — literally. The Rain Room lets you feel what it would be like if you could stop the rain. Located in the lot adjacent to the museum, there is water falling and it stops whenever it detects a human. The effect is rather breathtaking and definitely worth a wait in line, as the exhibit only accommodates ten people at a time. If you’re a MoMA member, you get priority access at all times, or, one of the better developments in recent MoMA history, every day only members get access to the museum between 9:30 and 10:30am. Between that and the discount at the store, membership is a no-brainer.

La La Liberace

I saw a preview copy of HBO’s Behind the Candelabra and I will say it is one of the more gutsy performances — from both Michael Douglas and Matt Damon — that I have seen in a while, and yet another example of the quality of content being produced for television. I’m too young to really remember Liberace, except as a punchline for over the top excess, but you don’t really need to remember him to get into the film. The story focuses on the showman and his boyfriend of several years, Scott Thorson, and all of the trials and tribulations of a very flamboyant performer who was in the closet and spending tons of money on cars, furs, jewelry and drugs. At its heart it’s a love story, and it goes there. If Matt Damon doesn’t win an Emmy for coming out of the pool in a rhinestone encrusted thong, then just call the whole thing off. And don’t miss a truly freaky turn by Rob Lowe as a creepy plastic surgeon. (Premieres May 26 on HBO.)

In Case of Emergency

My son has Little League all spring and many weekends just my daughter and me have headed to our house outside of the city. I never like to eat all of our meals out at restaurants — it feels like too much food and you can’t control how everything is cooked. But preparing dinner for just the 2 of us can be a little tricky. My daughter is a good and semi-adventurous eater, so I’m good with a green salad, pierogies (Mrs. T’s frozen ones are the best) and some sort of protein. I’m tired and rarely have time for a massive production, so I keep this Ken’s Steak House Teriyaki Marinade and Sauce on hand. I take salmon or chicken breasts, throw it into a glass bowl, cover it in the sauce, put a lid on it and put it in the fridge to marinate for 2 hours or so. When I’m ready I take it out, put it into a glass square pan sprayed with some Pam, and cook it for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. The results are juicy, and tonight my daughter told me, “This is the best chicken I ever had.” High praise! Best of all even if I use a little of it, I can leave the rest in the bottle for the next time.

Etc.

I was hoping it would be sunnier today. We headed out for a walk and it started raining, so we had to turn back, not knowing if it would turn into a full on downpour (it didn’t)…When the sun started to go down I needed to put the heat on and start a fire! I’m hoping I get a good night’s sleep tonight. My allergies have been acting up something fierce and I think it has been affecting my slumber. I need the beauty sleep!

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New Year, New Ideas!

January 5, 2013

Happy New Year Family Favs readers!!! I can’t believe this is our 4th birthday here on the blog. And we’ve got lots of recommendations for you, so I hope you had a great holiday and you’re ready to get out there and try something new!

PAA_Ann_Hamilton_JamesEwing-4794Unless they extend it, you’ve only got til tomorrow to check out Ann Hamilton’s “Event of a Thread” at the Park Avenue Armory. Grab the kids and go. To try and explain, it’s a series of large wooden swings connected to huge billowy white sheets. So when you take your turn on the swings, it makes the fabric move in mesmerizing ways. Plus there’s some pigeons and people reading into microphones. Really. You can also lie under the sheets and create your own form of meditation. It’s definitely a happening (in a good way) and worth seeing before it goes away. Kids 10 and under are free; adults are $12 and I would say you need at least an hour to hang out and experience it. More info here.

Beauty’s Where You Find It

I like the idea of using the new year as a marker to get out of your beauty rut. I actually chopped a lot of my hair off because I felt like it had gotten so dry and damaged. Now my hair feels a lot healthier and manageable. I also went and had my makeup done over at the Nars store on Bleecker. I like Nars makeup, and the staff in there is incredibly nice and helpful. In addition to putting makeup on you, they really explain what they’re doing and how you can recreate it or modify it at home. I have brown eyes and the makeup artist really encouraged me to go with plum shades around the eye. I have to say I have been liking it. (A woman at Clinique once told me this too but I guess you need to be told something twice!) They make an eyeliner that comes with its own sharpener in the cap (semi-genius) and once it’s set, really stays throughout the day (or night). Only issue is that you’ve got to put it where you mean it! And though I’ve been obsessed with a nude lip for quite a while, I probably look half dead in the winter so she convinced me to try some color. Flair is a nice red that’s not too red or heavy. And she had the best advice, which is that whatever makeup you feel comfortable in, that’s what you should wear. So where someone may feel great with heavily made up eyes and severe blush, you may feel more comfortable in a more natural palette. And both are ok!

Cinefiles

We took the time over the break to see 2 movies, which is a lot for us in a 10 day period. Django Unchained has a good script and great acting, especially from Christoph Waltz. There is a great scene with Don Johnson (yes, Don Johnson) and a bunch of hooded racists. But the violence (Quentin Tarantino’s calling card) was tough to take. My husband thought it was cartoony, but given what has happened in the world I don’t think i can write any of it off as cartoony….we also saw Silver Linings Playbook. This was a nice little movie — a respite in a world of action and event flicks. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent in the film; Bradley Cooper is fine. (My husband thought he was too weak an actor for the role.) Our takeaway? In a relationship, everyone always thinks the other person is more crazy than they are. And yet still there is love…

Etc.

I keep writing 2012 on everything…because it is hard to believe that 2013 is upon us.

Due to the fact that our house at the beach is still damaged from Sandy, we had a staycation in the city. And it was fun! I think the key to a good staycation is to plan at least one thing for every day so that you don’t revert to your routine. We saw lots of friends and family, visited museums and tried new restaurants. All fun!

Hope yours was equally enjoyable!

Oh, Memorial Day Weekend. It really is a harbinger of great summery things to come, no? Which always gets me thinking about all the things I want to do this summer. Like make a blueberry crisp. Martha Stewart was on the Today show yesterday whipping one up. I haven’t made it yet, but it looked delish:

Blueberry crisp

Recipe courtesy of “Martha’s American Food” cookbook

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 6 cups (3 pints) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Make the filling: Mix blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a bowl. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish.

2. Make the topping: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, oats, nuts, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir flour mixture into butter. Using your hands, squeeze topping pieces together to form clumps.

3. Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake until filling is bubbling in center and topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 30 minutes before serving.

You know what else I want to serve for dessert this summer? Big, ripe strawberries and a bowl of freshly whipped cream. It’s light, it’s sweet — just right for after a summer barbecue. We went out to Sparks steak house last week and a third of the desserts on their menu were different berries with their homemade whipped cream. After a big meal, it sounded divine.

Membership Rewards

We’ve joined many museums over the years because we feel it’s nice to support them, and if we go a lot, it can save money on entrance fees. More and more, I feel the museums are offering nice amenities that make it even more worthwhile to join. At the Metropolitan, they recently opened up on a Monday, typically their day that they are closed to the pubic, for a members-only day. As a member, you got to tour some of their most in-demand exhibitions (The Stein Collection; Prada and Schiaparelli at the Costume Institute) without the crowds, and in the foyer they offered cocktail tables and cookies and drinks. Plus 20% off in the store. Very civilized! MoMA offers family mornings on Saturdays where kids do art scavenger hunts and have a continental breakfast before the museum opens to non-members. And if your husband watches the kids, you can sneak off and go through some of their recent exhibits in peace. So the next time you visit your local museum, wherever you are, take a look at what a membership gets you. Chances are it’s much more than free admission, you can feel great about supporting the institution, and that you’ve enriched your family’s life that much more!

Etc.

Um, maybe it could stop raining right about now?! I can’t believe we have to fly to London to escape the downpours! It’s darkening everyone’s mood. Hopefully the long weekend will cheer them up!

Have a good one!

Fashion as Art

June 7, 2011

Before we get to today’s Favs I think we all need to reflect for a moment on how stupid these male politicos are: dude, do not tweet photos of yourself to women you don’t know! It’s kind of unbelievable. And once again we can all take away the lesson that LYING ONLY MAKES IT WORSE! Seriously. All I can say is, his poor wife. Hopefully she’s somewhere far, far away having a drink with her boss, Hillary Clinton. Irony never sleeps.

Anyway…last week I took a day off to check out the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I can honestly say it is one of the best exhibits I have ever seen. Yes, ever.

For those of you not familiar, Alexander McQueen was a bad boy British fashion designer who worked making custom suits on Savile Row and then helmed Givenchy, before getting his own line. He was always known for his outsized vision and was always pushing the boundaries (Lady Gaga was a client), but his clothes were always impeccably cut (Michelle Obama wore him too). Unfortunately he killed himself last year at 40 years old, cutting short of life of true genius.

Do not think of this as a fashion exhibit — it is art, through and through, that just happens to be wearable. As a creative person, seeing how he built a complete vision for each collection, from the clothes (an Elizabethan coat made out of hand-painted gold feathers!) to the accessories (a hat that’s a bird made from twigs) to the music (an African drumbeat where a coyote howls every two and a half minutes), really showcases the inner workings of his mind.

Beyond the actual clothes, which are gorgeous, the way they exhibit the pieces works well — some outfits are on revolving platforms so you get a 360 degree view, and moments from his different fashion shows are recreated, whether it be the box that was a mirror and a stage for the audience, Kate Moss’ hologram or slashed floorboards from “Highland Rape.” His use of organic materials like feathers, mussel shells and fresh flowers adds to the beauty and fragility.

This is one not to miss — they just extended it til August 7th and if you pay $50, you can even get in to check it out when the rest of the museum is closed. When you go, I recommend going very early or very late. LOTS of people go so there are lines and once inside, it just gets too crowded to see anything.

Click here for more info. I did the audio guide which was helpful in adding some background info and interesting to hear from people who knew him, but it isn’t essential and if it’s really crowded, I could see it being really annoying.

Etc.

I’ve truly been enjoying this spring-like weather and am sad to see that the mid-90s are coming back.  It’s early June! Give it rest til August.

Hope your week is fab!

Turning Trash Into Art

February 19, 2011

OK, this week was a little crazy, so I’m a day late with the post…but isn’t anytime a good time for Family Favs??

Here comes guest blogger Bret with his latest obsession:

For years, I’ve walked around my neighborhood on the upper upper east side (my downtown friends consider it Canada) and noticed amazing chalk-written inspirational notes.  The most common one was “Become Your Dream” accompanied by a simple drawing of a goldfish seemingly jumping out of its bowl.  They were so witty and thoughtful, often leaving me thinking all day, but the messages were fleeting.  Chalk drawings would appear and then get washed away by rain.  I would see a whole bunch in a week and then nothing for months.  I once recall a note (in chalk on the sidewalk, of course) about an exhibit and wanted to go, but laziness overcame curiosity.  Well, it had been a while  . . . until the recent snowstorms.  Hidden among the piles of trash frozen in place surrounded by snow, the notes appeared all over my neighborhood again drawn on discarded mattresses, cardboard and other junk.  One was even outside my building (see above).  I couldn’t take it any longer and finally did a little research.  Turns out that these are the work of a real Spanish Harlem artist – James De La Vega.  He had a museum on St. Mark’s Place, a fan page on Facebook and was relatively well known.  De La Vega.  Unfortunately, I’m too late and his museum closed in the fall.  See De La Vega St. Marks closes.  But you’ll see — he’ll be back and bigger than ever.  Don’t take my word for it, take his:  Recent interview.  Next time I’ll follow my dream and go check him out.

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken — running this one against my better judgement:

I hate to take a review of a really great song and make it all ass-centric, but have you taken a look at Alicia Key’s U.S.S. Ticonderoga-class booty? Enlist me to be the rear admiral on that vessel! My flag is already standing at…ok, you get the idea. If L. Ron Hubbard creates a religion centered around that rump roast, count me in!

Check it out here.

Etc.

Heading to warmer pastures, so next week Family Favs will be on hiatus…back soon!

Vacation Nation

January 11, 2011

Kind of gives politics and Washington a different spin after the tragedy this weekend in Arizona. But here is a guide to visiting our nation’s capitol:

President Obama left town just when we came to visit Christmas week. And maybe it’s just a well — the giant hawk we ran into in front of the White House, near the giant “JOBS” banner hanging on the Chamber of Commerce building, both seemed like bad omens…but we had a grand old time in Washington, seeing some friends and family and visiting some great museums…all free! (Plus, miraculously, we missed snowmageddon.)

As far as where to stay, there are a bunch of nice hotels, this being the land of lobbyists and subpoenas. We chose the Park Hyatt, which is near Georgetown and DuPont Circle. It was a lovely hotel, modern, clean decor, and on the American Express Platinum deal, you get breakfast every morning and a $100 food and beverage credit. My kids loved that they had a bench in the elevator; we loved that they upgraded us to a two room, two bathroom suite.

As far as what to do, there are a slew of options. People love the Spy Museum and the Newseum; because our kids are smaller we opted to wait on these. The Holocaust Museum, which I’ve been to, is also well done but better for an older crowd. We hit the Air and Space Museum, American History, National Gallery (which never fails to enthrall with its indoor waterfall), National Building Museum (which has a kid-friendly Lego exhibit at the moment), American Indian (which has the best cafeteria of all the Smithsonians) and African Art (where the kids sent messages to the children of Haiti). We also saw the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House, with said hawk. The kids even hit the carousel on the Mall, along with their pals Julia, Sophia and Anna, which was a nice treat.

We didn’t do it but a nice cashier in the American History Museum told me that for $19 you can join the Smithsonian, and it gets you 10% off at all the cafeterias and gift shops, plus a subscription to their magazine. Apparently it’s cheaper to join in any of the gift shops than to do it online before you go. The food isn’t so cheap (perhaps it needs to make up for the free admission) so 10% could pay off if you eat at a few of them. My friend Lynn said there is good gelato at the National Gallery, and she’s an expert on anything Italian!

As for other places to eat, we liked Clyde’s in Georgetown. We got a cozy booth by the window and the food is comfort-variety and reasonably priced. The Blue Duck , which is in the Park Hyatt, was very good but pricey — apparently it’s always hard to get a table, but as a hotel guest they’ll serve you the food in the smaller restaurant/lounge. Lebanese Taverna has a few outposts — we hit the one in Silver Spring and the food is very fresh and tasty. Pizza Paradiso is a step up from California Pizza Kitchen with unusual combinations — there was a wait at the one in DuPont Circle, but if it’s not too bad, it’s worth it. Founding Farmers by the campus of George Washington University has an expansive menu and a bustling crowd. Probably the best food we had was at Filomena’s on Wisconsin — all homemade Italian, complete with stories on the menu of how Bono and Clint Eastwood love the red sauce. But while the food was great, the decor is annoyingly tacky and given its popularity, there’s a palpable sense of being given the bum rush. When a plate of pasta is $28, that shouldn’t happen.

The metro makes it pretty easy to get around, although if you’re used to other big-city subways, it isn’t as extensive.

All in all I give it an A as a vacation spot for families — we didn’t even hit the zoo on this trip. We’ll definitely go back again when the kids are older and ready for a whole new set of museums.

New Year, New Favs

Last week was the second anniversary of Family Favs. I want to thank all of you loyal readers for supporting this blog and really hooking in to the tips, suggestions and recommendations. We love hearing from you! For 2011, all of our guest bloggers that you’ve come to know and love are back for the year, which is great. You will see most of them again on a monthly basis. And, Favs will now be twice weekly, on Tuesday and Friday mornings, with maybe a third day per week thrown in as an added bonus here and there. For those of you who subscribe by email, you’ll continue to get an email whenever there’s a new post. (If you’d like to subscribe by email, click the handy link at the right.) We hope you continue to enjoy Family Favs and spread the word.

Thanks!!

Oprah's getting into it

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: if you missed the Kennedy Center Honors, which aired last week on CBS, you missed out on one of the best specials of the year. It honors those that have had an impact on the culture of America and the world. This year’s honorees were Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Paul McCartney, Jerry Herman and Bill T. Jones. (I have a bit of an issue with Oprah — I mean, what is her talent, exactly? But I won’t quibble.) Inevitably, there are the tributes that you know will be good, and they don’t tell the recipient who’s coming out to honor them, which is a nice surprise and sometimes you actually get some real emotion which is rare on television these days. Julia Roberts, John Travolta and Barbara Walters were among those who saluted the talk show queen, but Oprah seemed most touched when Jennifer Hudson belted out a showstopper from the Broadway show The Color Purple, which Winfrey produced, and was joined by the choir from Oprah’s Tennessee alma mater. I laughed hardest when Chris Rock said Oprah was more powerful than Obama. When people laughed, Rock snapped, “She got him a job; he didn’t get her a job!”

And from the ones you don’t think you’re so into, you always learn something new. Like that Merle Haggard was bad news and was serving time in San Quentin when Johnny Cash came to perform, inspiring Haggard to pick up a guitar and turn over a new leaf. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up! The dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones was on a track scholarship to college when he took a dance class, which changed everything. He formed a dance troupe with his lover, who then succumbed to AIDS six years later and left Bill to deal with grief in his work and rise to even higher heights, winning Tonys for Spring Awakening and Fela. Jerry Herman was a boy wonder who penned Hello Dolly and Mame and then hit a drought, with failure after failure, until La Cage aux Folles. It was touching to see all of the current bright lights of Broadway paying him tribute.

And then, of course, there’s the big one that everyone wants to see. This year that would be McCartney. It was worth tuning in just to see Colin Powell getting his groove on to a few of the tunes. No Doubt, Dave Grohl, Norah Jones and Stephen Tyler did the hits proud — and it’s hard to believe how  many hits there have been from one genius. Paul seemed genuinely touched when James Taylor and Mavis Staples took on Let it Be, complete with every member in the audience holding up a light. Oprah knew every word to every song. And I learned that McCartney’s father had given him a trumpet for his birthday as a kid, but Paul exchanged it for a guitar. Talk about a watershed moment. And when they penned She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, his father thought they should stop the spread of “Americanisms” and make it “She loves  you yes, yes, yes.” Luckily they didn’t take that advice.

It’s a well produced show, and truly a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s always on the week after Christmas — so really, what else are you doing? Root around on the www and see if you can catch any bootleg outtakes of this year’s show. Otherwise mark your calendar!

Not Resolutions; Goals

I got some people writing in that they liked the “eat more fruit” idea from yesterday. So all week I will suggest a doable yet rewarding idea. Today’s: Clean a closet! I went through my shoes a couple of weeks ago and it is now a pleasure to go in my closet. I love it! So pick a closet, pick a drawer — whatever you can manage — and get rid of the crap you don’t use. Better yet, donate it and get a tax deduction. You’ll feel so much better.

Etc.

Tori has been sending me more info on birds dropping from the sky and dying in Arkansas and Louisiana. Is anyone else concerned? It’s like the canary in a coal mine.

Hope your week is going well!


‘Tis The Season

October 21, 2010

Oh, pumpkin. I tried the Pumpkin Spiced Latte last week at Starbucks — it was tasty! (But the over $5 price tag was a bit of a downer…) Guest blogger Denielle kindly shares her tips for a spectacular carved pumpkin this year:

 

The beautiful Cecelia stands with one her mom's creations.

 

I had never carved a pumpkin in my life until 2 years ago. My daughter saw a kit at Target and was enticed by one of the images on the cover of the stencil book. The attention-grabber was an intricate scene of 3 Disney princesses lit to full glory in a pumpkin.

I decided that although there was no way that Belle, Cinderella and Aurora were going to light the way for my local trick-or-treaters, I would buy the kit and try out one of the easier images (delineated by “one pumpkin” on a four-pumpkin scale of difficulty).

Not being a particularly crafty person – or that skilled with a double-edged knife  — I carved my very first pumpkin, and damn, if it didn’t come out REALLY well!!!!!

Now in my third year of carving, I thought I would share some tips from a non-crafty, somewhat klutzy pumpkin carver to you, loyal readers of FamilyFavs.  Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can!

PREP:

  1. Invest in a legit pumpkin carving kit. Don’t try and do this with your kitchen knives. And also invest in a solid pumpkin scoop. The slightly serrated edges help get out all the gross veins and seeds very easily
  2. Wear short sleeves and expect to get slimy!
  3. Buy a stencil book, or search online and print one out. Start simple.

CARVING:

1. Sit your pumpkin on the floor as it will sit on Halloween night and tape the 8 and 1/2 x 11 print out on the front.

— Tip: Make sure your pumpkin is big enough to sport your design….you don’t want to be carving too low or too high.

2. Using the largest carving knife, cut a circle around the pumpkin stem at the top, pull it off and set it aside.

— Extra Tip: Make sure the hole is big enough for a wide candle to fit in!

— Extra Extra Tip: Cut a small bit out of the top in a little “V” to allow candle smoke to exit!

— Most Important Tip: Make sure you angle the saw inwards so your lid sits on top of the pumpkin and doesn’t fall straight through!

3. Using your hands and your legit scooping tool, scoop out the seeds and strings inside the pumpkin. If you are planning to toast the seeds, be sure to separate them from the pumpkin flesh and strings.

4. Also be sure that the bottom is flat for the candle to rest on.

5. Tape the stencil on the front of your pumpkin, using tape on each of the 4 corners.

6. Using your pumpkin poker, carefully follow the lines on your stencil and make holes approximate 1/8” apart.

— You can move your pumpkin to a table for this part!

7. Once all the outlines have been made, remove the stencil and begin carving with the thin, delicate knives.

— Tip: start in the center of the design.

— Tip: to better see your holes, lightly dust flour over your pumpkin!

— Tip: Cut at an angle – opposite to the angle on the top — making the opening on the inside, wider than the outside. This allows for maximum light to show through your design!

Note: Traveling this week, so no post tomorrow — Family Favs will be back next week with more exciting tips and recommendations!

Art for Your Sake

August 10, 2010

I was supposed to have the day off today — and I guess if you define “off” as not physically being in the office and having my hand glued to my Blackberry all dang day, then I succeeded!

(Insert big sigh here.)

Yesterday Austin and I got our passports and headed to the Upper East Side to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (That’s a little joke for all my UES friends — hey, you just got a Shake Shack, you can take a joke!) All kidding aside, now that we’ve been doing the 1 train to the 86th Street crosstown bus, it’s a breeze.

There are three exhibits worth checking out at the Met, and one is closing soon. “American Woman,” presented by the Met’s Costume Institute, takes a look at the developing perceptions of women in the U.S. from 1890 – 1940 through eras of fashion. It starts out with the Heiress, then moves through the Gibson Girl, the Flapper, the Suffragette and the Screen Siren, among others. The idea being that the styles reflected the times (or vice versa) and lay the foundation for the modern American woman. I did wish the exhibit carried further toward present day, but the clothes are really beautiful and so well preserved. There is a white pleated Madame Gres gown cut down to there with a silver metal belt that is to die for, as they say. Sarah Jessica Parker narrates the audio tour. It’s only there til August 15th.

Also closing the 15th of this month is the Picasso exhibit. It showcases over 300 works from the Met’s own collection, which have never before been seen in their entirety. It’s pretty impressive.

By far Austin’s favorite exhibit is Big Bambu, which you have until October 31st to see, weather permitting. (It’s on the roof, and if it rains, they shut down access.) Created by the twins Doug and Mike Starn (who, coincidentally, are from the same area in New Jersey as me — my mom is a longtime Starn’s Shop Rite customer!), the structure continues to be built by the artists and some rock climbers. It’s cool to walk around and under it, and there is a bar (with a long line) where you can grab a drink and enjoy the surroundings. If you get a timed tour ticket, you can actually walk on the structure. But no children under 10 are allowed. Austin was perfectly content checking it out from all its other angles. Juxtaposed against the city and Central Park, it’s quite a sight.

Etc.

Austin started baseball camp so we took Addison out to lunch by herself. She was very excited for her rice and beans. I really think both my kids must be going through growth spurts because they cannot stop eating this week. Although Austin said he didn’t want the lasagna they had at camp for lunch, so he ate pretzels and goldfish. I’m sure that gave him all the energy he needed to play baseball for SEVEN HOURS! I think he even disgusted himself, because they offered him an ice cream dixie cup on the way out and he refused it.

Addison is going through a phase where she makes up words for things. What’s funny is that she always has some sort of logic behind it. Her latest is she was looking through a book on bugs, and she decided beetles should be called “chomp-chers.” Her reasoning is that they chomp with all their teeth that she could see on the magnified picture of it. We told her it’s a beetle, but she insists it’s a chomp-cher. Let it be said; let it be done.

This chomp-cher is signing off. Over and out.

Outdoor Mayhem

June 23, 2010

Yes, today’s recommendation is NYC-centric but those of you not here can file it away for the next time you’ll be here for a visit.

On Saturday night we took the kids to dinner at Otto, which was, as usual, great. I think it’s one of Mario Batali’s best efforts and it never fails to please all ages and taste buds. (In fact, we used to order the kids a pizza but this time they branched out into rigatoni with sweet sausage and spaghetti carbonara and they loved it.)

Afterward it was a lovely summer evening and the kids looked down Fifth Avenue and saw the water reaching new heights from the refurbished fountain under the gleaming arches in Washington Square Park. It beckoned, so we walked down and the kids were mesmerized by the shooting water. (Note: Many people let their kids wade in this fountain. I would not, given the things that the NYU college students probably do in it, as well as the homeless people who use it as their bathtub.) Nearby, a band was playing and there was a man making an incredibly large and detailed sand art picture on the ground. Then, seemingly from out of nowhere, a grand piano was wheeled out and two muscular dancers started to warm up. With musical accompaniment, a 20 minute acrobatic show began, with incredible physical feats. including the swallowing of one very long inflated orange balloon. The kids were riveted.

They’ve been renovating the park for a few years now and it looks great — all of the flowers are in bloom and it gives it a richness of color and nature mixed with the decidedly urban setting. It struck me that this is what New York City is all about — people coming together for a common experience, part freak show, part amazing talent. Everywhere you look there’s something fascinating to catch your eye or ear. It’s definitely worth a visit, and it’s free, save the donation you choose to make to the street performers. A bargain at twice the price! (If you want to preview the acrobats, go here.)

Carvel VIP?

I saw an item that apparently Dina Lohan got in trouble for improperly using her daughter’s black Carvel card to get free ice cream. This brought up several questions for me: Carvel has a VIP celebrity perks program? Celebrities can’t pay for a freakin’ ice cream cone? And is Dina Lohan really that cheap that she has to mooch free ice cream off of Lindsay?

These are the things that plague me.

Dry Cleaning to the Rescue

My daughter wore a super cute silk taffeta dress to her birthday party. It was the first time she had worn it and she proceeded to not only get chocolate all over it when she ate her cake, and glue on it at the craft table, but she sat in front of the spin art and as everyone made their pictures, paint splattered on her beautiful new dress. The thing was a mess and Ken told me to just throw it out — until I told him how much I paid for it. I took it to the dry cleaner and I must say it is amazing what they can do. The woman typed “***BAD STAINS**BAD STAINS***” into the computer on the tag, and then she hand wrote “Do Your Best” — so I didn’t have high hopes. But I figured I owed it to myself — and the dress — to try. And it all came out! Unbelievable, but true. She can wear it again, with pride. So if you have something that seems like it needs to be retired due to stains, try the dry cleaner. If they could get this clean, believe me, there’s a good chance yours will come clean, too. I find I have the best success when I’m very clear about what the stain is, and I make sure they mark where the stains are on the garment.

Etc.

I’m a little upset that it is going to be in the mid-90s for the next few days. I guess I’ll be inside at work. We just started cranking the air conditioner in anticipation.

I have so many things planned this week, I almost forgot I have to take Austin to his doctor for his annual check-up tomorrow. There are two other parties we have to hit tomorrow evening that I was focusing on…priorities, people! Ha ha.