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!!

5 Under $5

April 5, 2011

This is 2011 people — the dollar store is selling you poisonous toothpaste from China…allegedly! So I say give up the dollar dream…but under $5, there are good things to be had. So this starts a new semi-recurring post, 5 things that can enhance your life, each under 5 bucks. (And if anyone has anything to recommend, send them in under the comments or to familyfavs@yahoo.com!)

Egg Separator — I like egg white omelettes, and I find myself constantly having the yolk slip in or I’m fishing bits of shell out of the bowl. So for $1.99, I got myself an egg separator from Bed, Bath and Beyond. It hooks onto the side of the bowl and does the work for you. Just crack the egg in and only the whites slip out to the bowl below. Genius!

Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap — A bar of this in the shower does a body good because it’s all natural, AND it has a nice zing that wakes you up when you hit the sudsing part. Cleans without feeling too harsh, too. About $3 a bar — I get it at Whole Body.

Union Square Greenmarket Pies — There are a few different vendors that have delicious pies, and their small $3 ones are great. They allow you to try a bunch of different ones, and no one has to agree on just one kind of pie they want! As they say, variety really is the spice of life. I let my kids pick their own flavors and then they get to share — this weekend it was apple, pumpkin and a pecan for their dad. (For those of you not in the NYC area, check out a Farmer’s Market near you.)

Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser — It has been recommended on this site before, but it really takes the cake for getting stuff off your walls. Crayon, pen, grubby finger prints be gone! For about $4 you’ll have the power in your hands.

Starbucks Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte — It’s coming close to the $5 limit in Times Square ($4.45), but it squeaks under. No matter where you are, you can find a Starbucks, which means that no matter where you are, you can find a latte that tastes great, gives you a nice afternoon pick me up and satisfies your sweet craving all in one. I get mine decaf, but at only 130 calories, it’s still a nice treat.

There you have it. So in this installment, for about $17, life will be looking good! Try it all out and tell me what you think.

Really GOOD

I have been working so much lately that I haven’t felt like I’ve spoken to my husband in depth about much of anything. So we headed out for an early dinner to catch up. We went to Good on Greenwich Avenue, which has a great special between 6pm and 7pm every night: Any two courses are $24, three are $29. And they really mean any. So you can choose an appetizer from salads or mussels or flatbread pizza; entrees like scallops, fish tacos or pulled pork, and desserts including chocolate chip banana bread pudding or fresh donuts. It’s a great deal and the food is very good — it got surprisingly crowded that early, so I would make a reservation.

We Don’t Have a Winner

Our son signed up for Little League this year for the first time, and we were surprised when the rules came that THEY DON’T KEEP SCORE. It’s a game! People win and people lose — that is life. When we told my son, even he threw up his hands in the universal “WTF?” sign. I get that we want the kids to learn and the emphasis shouldn’t just be on winning, but I also think that by taking any sort of competition out of the game, whose ultimate purpose is really to have a winning side and a losing side, you’re setting these kids up for a lifetime of unreasonable expectations. I want my son to know that sometimes he will lose. I also want him to feel the burst of joy that comes with a win. But to have every game end with just a shrug and a handshake seems to me to be shortchanging every kid out on the field.

Etc.

Every time it seems spring is on the way, rain comes along to dampen everyone’s spirits. I would like just a plain old delicious 70 and sunny day. No wind, no rain. Just calmness.

I saw Charlie Sheen bombed this weekend at his show in Detroit. Is anyone surprised? I’m not really sure who would buy tickets to that. Not exactly clear on what performance he’s capable of giving.

I took a nap on Saturday, late afternoon, and it was just what I needed. If you’re feeling low energy and have had trouble sleeping, I recommend a nap, pronto. It made me feel like I could function again.

Hope your Monday was bearable!

I told you so

October 15, 2010

Have you ever had something happen where you go against your own established rules only to be burned time and again? I hate when that happens! And it has happened again.

I have potentially written in this blog about not spending money on tank tops, particularly white ones. They get stained, they get holes, and since you usually wear them under things, there’s really no need to splurge. It’s not like the fancy design of one tank top will set it apart. So I usually buy them at Old Navy, maybe The Gap, and when they look a bit worn, I throw them out.

Well, for some reason I convinced myself to get some Vince tanks. Why, I do not know. I think they were $55 a piece. Big mistake. I think I’ve worn it about 5 times, and I went to wear it today, and sure enough it is starting to yellow, and there are small holes in front, around where my jeans’ buttons hit.

In other words, it wears no differently from the $10 one.

Lesson learned. Again.

Single of the Week

Ken is getting weird. Again.

In 10 years, I see myself firmly placed in the 72% marginal tax bracket. With the national debt and taxes at near-historic highs, we will abscond to the woods in Pennsylvania’s rust belt, leaving behind the “culture” and “diversity” of urban living. Cheryl will begrudgingly adopt flannel as evening wear, and I will immediately register as a Republican. After cashing in the kids’ 529 plans to buy salted bacon, 2 ATVs and a diamond leopard pendant for Cheryl’s 50th birthday, I’ll start a Republican media consulting group dedicated to debunking the myths of the Democrat agenda. Every spot I produce attacking the misguided policies of the radical left will have this week’s Belle & Sebastian single as its track – it’s toe-tappingly contagious while being effete, smugly self-assured and representative of old European socialism.

Etc.

There’s supposed to be a wind storm here tomorrow. Just in time for the weekend. With all the crazy weather patterns it really does feel like Armageddon is upon us. I’m just sayin’…

Very exciting that the weekend is almost here. Have fun!

Making Allowance

October 13, 2010

We’ve been doing a lot of talking about allowances lately. Our son is 6 and it seems like it’s time to start with one, but how much? And for what?

I never really got an allowance when I was a kid. But my friends who did, I remember they used to get it for the chores they did around the house. (Maybe part of my issue was that I never really did any chores around the house, but I digress…) Apparently, tying an allowance to chores is a big no-no, according to just about every child expert we researched. If you start paying them to do things like making their bed, they’ll expect to be paid to do just about anything.

But it feels a little weird to pay them for breathing. And yet an allowance does help teach them about managing money.

So where we netted out is that he has a list of “chores” he needs to be responsible for. Things like clearing his plate and putting his clothes in the laundry. (Remember, he’s 6.) Separately, he will get a small allowance. Half of it he gets to spend on whatever he wants, in consultation with us. A quarter has to be saved. The other quarter has to be donated to the cause of his choice.

Sounds like a plan, no? We’re going to try it and see how it goes. Because you can read up on all the experts in the world, but until you try it for yourself, with your child, you really can’t tell what will work out!

Savings Gap

Crappy logo or not, the Gap has been giving out discount cards to get 40% off any one full price item on Wednesdays. They give it out if you buy something, so make sure to ask for it. They also have been having 40% off days every once in a while — it’s worth signing up for their emails if you shop there often enough, to get a heads up about their sales.

Etc.

My daughter shot a commercial with Eli Manning today. She was very cute! And he was very nice. He was teaching her how to spin a football. The makeup artist gave her a papaya lip balm and she LOVED it!


Hey Goog

October 5, 2010

I watched last night’s 60 Minutes and they had a piece about how Bill and Melinda Gates are giving out their $30 billion fortune. They are pledging a third of that to public education in the U.S., and they have already personally given 20,000 scholarships to students and paid for their college educations. That’s incredible! Seriously amazing.

Anyway, from Microsoft to Google…In the latter’s quest to control everything on the planet, they have come up with several smaller ventures that most people may not be aware of, but are actually quite helpful. One of them is Google Information, or Goog 411. Why pay for calls to information to get the numbers you need? For free, you can call 1-800-GOOG-411 (that’s 1-800-466-4411), follow the prompts, and it will connect you to the number you requested. I keep it programmed into my cell phone and it easily connects me.

It’s a computer, so like any computer there are sometimes glitches in it hearing your request clearly, but it generally figures it out after the second or third enunciation. But I’ll take it over paying extra fees to the cell phone company.

I’m sure one day, when Google has all hooked, they’ll start to charge too (like giving the crack away for free…for a while), but for now I’ll take it.

Etc.

Not only do I have all of my regular crap to get done tonight, but Austin lost yet another tooth so I have to play Tooth Fairy. Ahh! I hope I don’t forget. Then I’ll have to come up with an elaborate excuse about how she must have had to take a sick day.

Will this rain every stop? Seriously. It’s making everyone crazy.

Dear Old Navy: No one wants a shirt that says “Old Navy.”

I don’t understand why they continue to make these things, and then mark them down to $4. Perhaps they are on a quest to fill landfills with unwanted clothing. But what do I know…

We can't believe the selection either...

One thing I do know: the new Trader Joe’s on Sixth Avenue is FANTASTIC. Seriously. 16,000 square feet. Wide aisles. Lots and lots of stock, all divided into intuitive areas where you can actually browse, friendly and helpful sales staff, and, most importantly, 25 checkout lines!! Brilliant, really.

And it is cheaper. I did a casual peruse of my bill and informed Ken that I had saved almost $30 on a $112 bill from what I would have spent at Whole Foods. $30 per week is real money! In a few months I’ll have enough to buy…some other Marc by Marc Jacobs bag I have my eye on…

But I digress.

If you are in the city, check it out. (Or don’t and keep it blissfully uncrowded.) But even if you can’t check out this one, I thought it was a good opportunity to discuss some of my favorite things from Trader Joe’s:

Spices: They have all sorts of spices, and I like that they come with their own disposable grinders. Every turn provides fresh lemon pepper (or whatever you choose) and keeps it a few steps above any other store bought spice.

Cheese and Peanut Butter Crackers: My kids love these, and I like that they don’t have any of the junk (like hydrogenated oils) that some other brands have. I go back and forth, but right now I am partial to the cheese crackers!

Frozen Mini Chicken Tacos: Another kid favorite. In fact, last week my daughter told her nanny that she loved tacos. And my nanny said, “Oh, I can make you tacos. I take some garlic…” and proceeded to tell Addison how she makes tacos from scratch. Without missing a beat, my 3 year old said, “My mom doesn’t make them like that. She sprays the pan and puts the tacos on and cooks them in the oven. And they’re really good!”

Frozen Dumplings: We’re partial to the chicken or shrimp. Tasty Asian wontons that my son likes to take for lunch. And I sometimes like them for lunch too! They cook quick in the microwave, taste fresh and with a little dot of soy sauce…delish!

White Bean Hummos: I’m not sure why this is so good, but it is. Great with mini whole wheat pitas or baby carrots. I guess it’s the white bean, but something takes it above and beyond regular hummos. When I was checking out, the woman was like, “This stuff is SO good.” when she rang up the hummos. So we all agree!

I could go on but that gives you a good start. Believe me, once you get started there, you’ll find your own deliciousness. I have had some bummer items (Light Pink Lemonade? Blecch.) and I have put down things because they contain shady ingredients. So read the labels — it’s not like Whole Foods where things have been pre-screened for hydrogenated oils, etc. I guess their mantra is Foods of the World, hence Trader Jose’s and Trader Giotto’s. I find it to be great for frozen prepared foods that actually taste good and can get a busy mom and family through the week in a fully-fed, semi-healthy way. Maybe that should be their new tagline!!

The new Trader Joe’s in Chelsea is open 8am – 10pm daily.

Etc.

You may have noticed there was no posting Sunday night. That was because I was bedridden with one of the nastiest stomach bugs I have had in my life. I will spare you the details but it went through my house and left its mark on all of us in some horrific way. I used my Lamaze breathing from childbirth to get me through the stomach pains. AWFUL!

Yesterday I was still weak and woozy, but now I seem to be back.

Hope you’re well!

Shorting It

June 17, 2010

I woke up at 5am this morning for no apparent reason. Feeling and looking it all day, for sure. Yikes!

I had seen the term “short sale” in all of the reams of paper I’ve read about the financial crisis, but I had never really known what it meant. Here to tell us is guest blogger Rebecca. Or should I say guest blogger Rebecca’s intern:

The past two months there has been a local graduating high school senior interning in my office.  The manager in the office seems to have no idea what to do with him.  So, the other day I was doing my desk time, which is when I have to man the phones in the office and field calls which lead to potential business.  It’s like Glengary Glenross.

Back to the intern…he was shadowing me during my uptime.  What did I have for him to do? Recently; I had an accepted offer on a house that is in a short sale.  In addition, I am always being asked what a short sale is, so I asked the intern to do a little writing for me.  The intern is going to Syracuse in the fall and told me he loves writing.  So folks, I found the perfect task for him.  Let me know what you think.

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure

There are two ways to deal with homes that one struggles to make their mortgage payments. They can take the traditional route and let their home go into foreclosure or they may be able to qualify for a short sale. What many people fail to recognize is that there is a big difference between the two. To start off a short sale allows the mortgage lender to accept a price that is less than what the homeowner owed. However there are some rules about short sales, such as it only is allowed for homes that have more than a $729,000 mortgage. The other way a person struggling to pay back their mortgage can deal with a home issue is letting it go into foreclosure. A foreclosure, allows the bank to gain some security on the mortgage they let the homeowner borrow. It means that the homeowner won’t have any responsibility of the sale of the home and the bank can auction it off for any price. In many ways, one might think this is the better solution because the bank takes care of the issue. However, the negativity of a foreclosure is it makes it harder to obtain real estate in the future because it leads to a 200 point hit on the FICA score. It makes sense — why would a lender want to give out more money to someone who struggled to pay back their first loan?  That is why for many reasons a short sale makes sense, because it gives the homeowner the ability to allow their home to be sold like any other home and avoids the long dreaded consequence that is associated with the word “foreclosure”. People know this, banks know this and that is why in 2009, the treasury department created the program HAFA, in order to keep people out of foreclosure.

Some Things Are Forever

April 30, 2010

My morning started with Austin asking/telling me: “Mom, you know what would be crazy? If someone made a monkey come alive in the bathroom.” And all you can do at that point is agree, because yes, that would be crazy!

Does anyone really send snail mail anymore? Yes, they do, whether it be bills or cards or (heaven forbid) an actual, hand-crafted letter. Yes, the postal service is losing money due to emails, etc., and yes, they seem to raise the basic rate quite often. So if you’re going to send, be smart and buy yourself the Forever stamps. They’re not the prettiest of things (how much Liberty Bell can you take?) but you can use them forever, no matter what the postal rate rises to. No more fumbling for one cent stamps, no more not using stamps because they’re not the right postage.

Here’s a tip: don’t wait til the threat of a rise in postage looms large to buy them. They seem to sell out and the postal service mysteriously runs out right around then. Keep them handy throughout the year and you’ll never be caught short!

Single of the Week

Here comes Ken:
In the May issue of People Style Watch, the cover story is “325 Fun & Flirty Looks for Drifters.” It previews the latest wares, whether you’re spending the night rifling through a dumpster or have an early morning meeting to find half-used cigarettes on the sidewalk. People are raving about the gray toggle coat smeared with four-day old bean dip, the plaid taffeta shirtdress that smells like pizza forgotten in someone’s pocket, and a chic red velvet camisole that 5 acquaintances have used as a tissue. The perfect musical accompaniment to these fashions is Son Volt, son of the 90’s Uncle Tupelo, cousin of Wilco and personal favorite of mine. It’s equal parts wanderlust, steel pedal and blue plate special. Enjoy the crowd favorite, “Tear-Stained Eye,” here:
Click here and play it with Lala. (You get one full play. After that, it’s a 30-second clip.)
http://bit.ly/aNou1v
Don’t Mistake Them For One of Them
Apparently the makers of AriZona Iced Tea are fearful of a boycott given that state’s new immigration law, but the stuff is actually made in New York, so there’s no need.
Really?!
There was a week working for Vogue on sale for charity, and apparently someone paid $42,500 in the winning bid. That’s like 2 assistants’ salary at Vogue!
Etc.
Well the weekend is just about here, and it is supposed to be GLORIOUS! Lots of warmth and sunshine. Sounds like a recipe for F-U-N.
Hope you enjoy and your allergies don’t flare up!

It’s Magic!

April 8, 2010

You know those samples that come in magazines for perfumes and creams and other such beauty products you probably don’t need? I often rip them out, but I rarely actually use them. So they end up collecting dust somewhere until I get the motivation to throw them out (and in the process drive my husband insane, which is half the fun, really).

But recently I ripped one out for L’Oreal’s Studio Secrets #1 Magic Perfecting Base. And in the same issue of Vogue, there was an article that talked about the new Studio Secrets line of products that were all about creating near-perfect skin. This piqued my interest because I am a firm believer that no matter how much makeup you slather on, if you don’t have great skin, it’s all for naught. (Note to marketers: the double whammy of insert AND editorial got me.) So I tried the product, and it really does work! You put it on any areas that have lines or large pores and it smoothes everything out and creates an even palette to put on your makeup. Think of it as spackle for your face.

A couple of notes: use it sparingly; truly a dab will do ya. And it says you can use it alone or under other makeup, but I’m not sure why you would use it alone. It doesn’t do much but fill in, which only seems to make sense if you’re putting concealer or something on top.

The best part is that the product retails for $12.95, and it will last. (And for all you New Yorkers, it’s on sale right now at Duane Reade. With your rewards card you save $2.) There are plans for other Studio Secret products to debut in the coming months — I have high hopes after trying this inaugural product!

Really, Airlines?

You knew it was coming — Spirit Airlines will now be charging people for their carry on luggage on planes.

It has really gotten ridiculous with the nickel and diming — the best part is that in trying to defend the move, an airline exec said something along the lines of, “Well, you wouldn’t show up to FedEx and expect them to ship your package for free.” Yeah, but I wouldn’t have already shelled out over $500 bucks for a FedEx ticket. Hello?! Just say you want to try and eek out every last dollar, and leave the sorry excuses at home. And while you’re at it maybe the airlines need to blow up their business model and start fresh, because the route that they’re going is alienating more and more customers. I know I try to avoid flying if at all possible — and I’m someone who loves to travel!

Etc.

I didn’t sleep so great last night and I am paying for it this evening.

I cannot believe it hit 90 degrees in NYC today. It’s too hot! This is where global warming gets depressing, because I love spring! Anymore, you get maybe one or two gorgeous spring days and then bam! It goes right to sweltering. It’s like a summer night outside. (And this weekend it will be in the 50s, meaning everyone will be sick by Monday.)

One of our favorite neighbors is moving! Such a bummer. A couple down the hall. This is the second time we’re losing good neighbors because of how expensive our neighborhood is. Both couples moved to the Upper West Side because they got double the space for less money. Maybe we should get out of here! (Not gonna happen — I’m a downtown kinda gal.)

Hope your week is going well.

Forward, Charge!

February 18, 2010

What is up with Bob Costas’ hair? It’s not a color found in nature and it’s really bothering me.

This has nothing to do with anything but once he sat in front of me at a Knicks game, and he is SO small — his finacee’s diamond engagement ring was almost as big as him.

Anyway…don’t you get sick of being asked to open up a charge account at every store you purchase something? Most of them aren’t worth the trouble, but if you shop at The Gap, Banana Republic or Old Navy regularly (and if you have a pulse, you probably do), it’s most likely worth getting one of their credit cards. A couple of years ago I broke down and got a Banana card, and I have found it worthwhile for several reasons. They have different days (like every Tuesday) when credit card holders get an extra 10% off. If you have one of the cards, most promotions that the other stores are running for their cardholders will get extended to you. (For instance, even though my card is Banana, The Gap extends its discounts to me.) You earn 5% of every dollar you spend at any of The Gap Inc.’s stores (including Piperlime and Athleta) in gift cards, which you can spend at any of their stores. (You get 1% of every other purchase.) If you spend $800 in a calendar year, you become “Luxe” with Banana, which gives you free alterations on anything, and free shipping on any of their websites, at any price. So if you find that dress on sale at BabyGap.com for $9.99, no more hemming and hawing about paying for shipping — it’s free!

If you do find yourself shopping in these stores often, pick which one you buy things in most and wait for a day when you’ll be making a large purchase. Then go for it and get 15% off your first day’s purchases, and start reaping the rewards. You’d be surprised how much you spend in their stores, and how quickly the gift cards add up. It is nice if you need jeans or pajamas to have a little subsidy!

Etc.

No Olympic fever yet.

Don’t you hate when someone asks you a question that they clearly aren’t interested in your answer to? If you’ve already made up your mind, don’t waste my time. That’s my motto. (Catchy, isn’t it?)

I must say happy birthday to Andy! You don’t look a day over 50 (ha ha). Have you figured Twitter out yet?

Feeling tired, glad we’ve made it over the hump this week. See you tomorrow!!