Glimpse Into Fall

July 27, 2013

Who couldn't use a new hoodie from Quiksilver???

Who couldn’t use a new hoodie from Quiksilver???

Well I skipped dessert last night and did an extra workout this morning in the name of getting my fav cheese danish from the bakery this morning, which I have yet to have this summer, and wouldn’t you know it: sold out! There’s some sort of moral in that story but…strawberries and yogurt it is!

Let’s turn our attention now to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. This is a yearly event and I like it because it offers real savings on things before the season, and it’s things you might actually want! If your kids need back to school sneakers, they’ve got some Nikes. I like these adidas kicks but my son wasn’t into them. For women, these Frye boots are pretty rad, and they’ve got a bunch of denim and other staples if you’re in need. I also like the beauty exclusives they do for the sale, like these brushes from MAC.

Definitely worth taking a look around the sire. And Nordstrom, bless their hearts, always have free shipping and free returns, whatever the amount you spend. If you”re buying shoes and aren’t sure of the fit, I recommend ordering 2 sizes and then shipping the one back that doesn’t fit. That way you don’t end up disappointed if what you want is sold out. Sale is til August 5th, and then prices head back up.

Leg Up

There are a few things that I just have a hard time spending a lot of coin on — black leggings are one of them. These from Old Navy work well — and they come in long and a cropped version. They hold their shape and their color, which is a lot more than I can say for some other brands. And at less than $13, well, enough said.

Etc.

We are trying a new restaurant tonight — Ohana Grill. Heard it was good so we’ll see. Also I have yet to get there but people are raving about the fried chicken at Hybird, the fried chicken, dumplings and cupcake joint in Chelsea market from Stephen Starr and Questlove. Sounds like a must-try, no?

So glad the heat has broken, unfortunately as I look outside it is like the sun has gone away too! 😦 Happy weekend!!

I realize it’s a little bizarre to follow up a post about Easter candy with a post about sugar being toxic, but so be it. I just happened to watch Sanjay Gupta’s piece for 60 Minutes, and it’s pretty scary. Essentially the latest research shows that a sugary drink is just as bad for your body, and can have the same ill effects, as a fatty hamburger. I’m oversimplifying but that is essentially the headline. You can watch for yourself here.

I think the thing that is so frustrating as a parent — really, as a consumer — is that sugar and all its derivatives (high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, etc.) are hidden in things you wouldn’t even think had them. Things like peanut butter and spaghetti sauce. Bottom line, you really have to read every label. Because it could say “natural” and be loaded with sugar, since sugar is, in fact, natural. Natural but toxic, apparently.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Just want to give a shout out to a couple of customer-friendly stores. Sephora, who has a liberal return policy, which is very rare for cosmetics stores. I had a spray that was malfunctioning, and they exchanged it lickety split. Jack’s Stir and Brew, a great coffee spot in the city, couldn’t accommodate my request but tried to make up for it in another way…I had gotten a pound of their coffee and wanted to exchange it for decaf. It had only been a week but they said they couldn’t take it back. I didn’t argue — it’s a small operation and what can you do. I had also ordered a large decaf skim latte, and without missing a beat he said the drink was on the house. Which means I will be a loyal customer, and tell others. Because if a place really believes that the customer comes first, the customer will in fact always come there, first!

The Emperor Needs New Clothes?

Warm weather leaving you feeling like you need a new outfit? It’s the Friends and Family sale and Lord & Taylor this weekend — 25% off just about everything, and 10% off cosmetics. Shop online here and enter the code “FRIENDS”.

Etc.

The weekend is here! And the weather is supposed to be fab…enjoy it!!

Good Week/Bad Week

November 11, 2011

No matter how bad your week was, if you’re not Joe Paterno or Rick Perry you’re probably ok. (That’s me, always looking on the bright side.) I don’t want to delve too far into the mess at Penn State, but maybe all those protesting Joe Pa’s ouster should take a minute to think about the real victims in this case. Just awful.

Eddie Murphy is out as Oscar host. Now Billy Crystal is in. NBC wants Ricky Gervais to host the Golden Globes again. If you remember, last year was an awesomely uncomfortable event where he insulted everyone in the room and pissed off the Hollywood Foreign Press, whoever they are. I think it’s going to happen. Ratings gold!

And finally, Heavy D, we hardly knew ye. Too young to die. Now that we’ve found love what are we gonna do?

Sales Mania!

This weekend is 40% off during friends and family at Loft. Over at the Gap, they’re giving 30% off, and if you bring in the email, you can get 40% off if you use your Gap, Old Navy or Banana Republic card. Worth checking out, although I must say I found the pickin’s were mighty slim. I did get my son some jeans at a good price, so that’s worth it if anyone in your house needs denim. And if you need baby items, this weekend is Giggle’s Friends and Family savings – enter FF11 online at checkout for 20% savings on everything.

Earlier this week I gave kudos to Nordstrom for their new free shipping policy. Now I want to give kudos to them in that they announced they won’t be decorating for the holidays (i.e. Christmas) until after Thanksgiving, because they like to “celebrate one holiday at a time.” Finally a retailer with some common sense. We don’t need to hear Christmas music half the year — a month or so is fine. Unless it’s “Last Christmas”  Or that one Mariah does. Then you can play it…

Single of the Week

Ken brings it:

Political scandal alert hot off of the wires! NJ Governor Chris Christie was caught in a Millburn hotel room with a salad and slice of cantaloupe. Sources also report that the waistline-challenged governor was kickin’ it old school with this tune from Jeremih:

Listen to it here.

When we heard from our friends at Tate’s Bake Shop last month that they’d like Family Favs to do a tasting of their Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, we jumped at the chance. Who in her right mind with 2 kids and a hungry husband would say no to that?! October is National Cookie Month, after all. (No, I didn’t know that until they told me!) And apparently Tate’s Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies won a Gold in the Cookie category at the 2011 sofi™ Awards, presented at the Fancy Food Show (known as the Oscars® of the specialty food industry) in Washington, DC. Sounded good to me!

Kathleen King, who created these cookies, has been baking since she was 11 years old, selling chocolate chip cookies at her family’s farm stand. Those chocolate chip cookies have since been voted America’s Favorite Chocolate Chip cookie by Rachel Ray, and Tate’s Bake Shop now offers many more cookie flavors, as well as a variety of Kathleen’s signature traditional American desserts such as cakes, pies, crumbles and more. She has now put it all together in a cookbook, The Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook, which includes a forward by Ina Garten. The cookbook has been a huge hit as the recipes are delicious and simple to bake. According to Kathleen, each recipe is designed to “take less time to make than it would to go to a store to buy a commercially prepared baked good.” I am definitely down with that.

So, on to the cookies: how are they? Quite tasty, I must say. I should state up front that I have built in preference for soft cookies (that just out of the oven smell and taste can’t be beat) but given that I almost never have time to bake, especially during the week, these are a terrific substitute to have in the cabinet. The chocolate chunks are my favorite part — it tastes like high quality chocolate, which isn’t always the case with store-bought cookies. And there is a very generous chocolate: cookie distribution, so you get some chunks in every bite. Also a huge plus. And the fact that they’re whole wheat (but don’t taste it at all), well, that gives any mom a little extra satisfaction about giving them to their kids. Thumbs up I say!

Now, here’s the good part. From now through October 12th, Family Favs readers can take 15% off their order at Tate’s Bake Shop online by using the code cookie2011 at checkout.

And, we’ve got an exclusive contest. Send Family Favs your favorite cookie recipe, and you could win 3 bags of Tate’s delicious Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip cookies, as well as a signed copy of Kathleen’s cookbook. Plus we’ll put your recipe on Family Favs to share with all of our readers. Just email us at familyfavs@yahoo.com by Tuesday, October 18th, and don’t forget to include your name and address so Tate’s can ship you your prize if you win. Open to U.S. residents only (sorry international friends!)…we’ll take all of the entries, mix ’em up and pull out one lucky winner. Come on, you know you want some tasty cookies!!

If you’d like, you can check Tate’s out on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @TatesBakeShop.

Nashville Scorcher

August 9, 2011

I had to go to Nashville last week for work, and let me tell you I was not thrilled about heading to Nashville in August. Dreams do come true — it was the hottest day on record there since 1952. Walking outside was like wading through an oven.

Anyway, while I wouldn’t go in August, it’s not a bad place to visit. In fact if you like country music, it’s a must stop. I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan, but I do see the appeal. I didn’t get to go on this trip, but on my first trip to Music City I hit the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Museum, which were both worth a trip. (Elvis’ car with a record player in it — this was pre-8-track, people — is a highlight.) Hatch Print Shop does all of the cool block print posters for everyone from Johnny Cash to the newscasters on CNN. I overheard a tour guide saying that it’s superstition in the music world that it’s good luck to have them do your concert poster, so no musician wants to tempt fate.

You’ve gotta have barbecue down there — I hit Puckett’s Grocery, and it was tasty. They’ve got live music and chocolate checkerboard pie…and they take reservations. (On another trip to Nashville I went to a barbecue at Billy Ray Cyrus’ house, which had the best banana pudding I have ever had!) I had the blue plate special for lunch at 417 Union, and it was delish — salmon cakes with mac and cheese and glazed carrots, a biscuit and a big ‘ol iced tea.

I stayed at the Hermitage, which is one of the nicer hotels, and the people there are quite accommodating and the rooms are renovated and nice. Even if you’re not staying at Opryland, you must check that place out…it is HUGE. Lots of restaurants, shops, common areas…there’s even a river that runs through it.

The airport is a short drive from downtown and the people are friendly, which can only mean one thing: long weekend!

Free…Really!

The Clearview Cinema on 23rd Street has free kids’ movies on Wednesday mornings til the end of the summer. Crowd pleasers like Cats and Dogs 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Shrek 4 bring in the kiddy mobs at 10:30. And when I say “free,” of course I mean $5, the cost of a kid-sized popcorn and lemonade, which they will inevitably beg for.

Etc.

We had a great time in Pennsylvania with some friends at their house. The husband was a great cook and made this grilled peach and pesto recipe that I must get and share — it was amazing!

Hope your week is off to a great start!

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!

Movie Madness

June 10, 2011

On Fridays through July 29th, if you want to go to the movies and you have a Visa Signature card, you’re in luck: if you follow this link to Fandango, you can buy one ticket and get the second one for free.

There are a few caveats (like only one per month per cardholder and you have to purchase and use the tix on the same Friday), but in general this feels like a great way to beat the heat at a discount!

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken:

Austin has a new favorite song. Like many things that affect him, I don’t know if it’s good or bad, or if it will be anything meaningful within the long continuum of his life. Nevertheless, I give it and its corresponding artwork my enthusiastic support.

Etc.

Did you catch Google’s mini tribute to Les Paul? Just go to google.com and strum on the logo. You can even record a little song and send it to your friends.

It was amazing to watch the front come in to try and relieve us of this 100 degree heat. All seems calmer now…thank goodness!!

Our guest blogger Denielle gets ready to see her oldest child leave kindergarten and pre-school behind, with some lessons we can all take away:

My oldest daughter’s first year of kindergarten is coming to a close on June 9. There’s nothing that makes me feel older than realizing my kids are now an age I remember being myself!!! I recall collecting worms in first grade for science, being Sandy (yes, the dog) in our rendition of ANNIE and playing dogs on the playground at recess (perhaps inspired by my stage debut).

It has been said (in graduation speeches and humor columns mostly) that everything we need to know in life we learned in kindergarten. If that’s true, then I’m soaking up some major life lessons when Cecelia shares her daily adventures.

Some of the things I’ve re-learned this year include (in no particular order):

  1. Monkey bars are hard. They can be mastered by determination and practice.
  2. A common phonetic spelling of “pizza” is “peze” (just in case you are reading any important works by 6 year olds).
  3. Before speaking, we should ask ourselves if it is kind, true or necessary. Technically speaking this is part of her school’s anti-bullying code and is an old Quaker adage but I sure wish more people knew about it!
  4. In the digraphs “QU,” Q is always faithful to U, but not vice versa (Damn U).
  5. Female spiders eat their mates after mating. Ewwww!
  6. Chocolate milk for lunch every day gets old around April 3. Variety may very well be the spice of life.
  7. We can be many colors, shades, sizes and shapes on the outside, but we’re all pretty much the same on the inside.

Next week her sharing topic is “best kindergarten memory.” I hope she remembers the above listed lessons and so many more of the accomplishments I have witnessed.

First grade, here we come!

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken:

Unless you ride the NY subway, attend Polish weddings or vacation at a gypsy camp, you probably don’t come into much contact with accordion players. Los Tigres Del Norte, a norteño group from Mexico has got the squeezebox thing down, and they did it live with Paulina Rubio:


Who’s Paulina Rubio? She’s an international superstar, but all I know is that she did this video, which was clearly funded by the IMF.

Etc.

If you’re in need of anything at The Gap, they’re taking an extra 40% off most things, in-store only. Worth checking out — I got some nice summer pajamas and a light windbreaker, perfect for rainy summer days.

Nothing like a 77 degrees and sunny day to lift your spirits! Let’s hope it continues…

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!!

Penny Pincher

March 25, 2011

Another week, another celebrity freak out. This time it’s Chris Brown, over-reacting to some very innocuous questions from Robin Roberts about Rihanna. You can have three #1 hits off of your new album but you cannot hide from the restraining order! Crazy. He apparently hurled a chair through a window at Good Morning America. The best response I saw was from Jimmy Kimmel, who said, “Apparently, not a morning person.”

Guest blogger Bret is freaking out about another issue altogether: companies sticking it to loyal customers. I’m down with that:

One of my pet peeves is when new customers or subscribers of magazines, cable TV or other goods/services are offered a lower rate than existing customers.  Why should I be penalized for being a loyal customer?  Should the newbies get a better deal?  I understand the logic – companies offer a special introductory rate to attract new business and can’t afford to keep the price that low forever.  I don’t care.

When it’s time to renew a subscription or they raise the fee, I call customer service and ask for the lower rate.  If that doesn’t work, I ask for a supervisor.   If that doesn’t work, I threaten to drop them or ask for the “retention” department (which usually has special authority to offer deals to “at-risk” customers).  I know it’s petty and the amount of time I spend haggling is probably better spent a thousand other ways, but it’s the principle.  And guess what?  It usually works — except for People magazine, which apparently knows that I’m not that cool and doesn’t care if I unsubscribe.

Single of the Week

Here’s Ken being oh so Ken:

I am a Tiger Dad. I make Austin lift weights an hour each day, withhold food if he can’t recite the second act of Les Miserables and demand that he write daily posts in his pro-Palestinian blog. And Addison? I force her to dance to this:

Check it out!!

Etc.

I really find the news extra depressing lately. I definitely recommend tuning it out after limited exposure. It can start to seep inside your brain.

I met an old friend for a drink tonight. I totally recommend it. He picked the 21 Club which I had never been to in all my years. The best part was that he knew just about everyone working there. It was easy and funny and warm, and he kept telling introducing me as his friend for 24 years. The hallmark of a true old friend is that when you get together, it’s like no time has intervened. So call or email an old friend right now! We all could use a little togetherness.