Embrace the New!

March 9, 2014

Delicious pici!

Delicious pici!

Blink and another freezing cold month goes by! But I’m here now and ready to pass on some new, new, new — because you need something to keep it interesting as the last days of winter squeeze every last bit of our ability to cope out of us. Make it stop! A girl can only wear her parka so many days…

Kefir! It’s my obsession. A nutritionist told me that so many health issues are tied to the bacteria found in the gut, and that she recommended trying to incorporate some kefir, packed with probiotics, into your diet. It’s a good alternative to yogurt. I like to mix a cup of plain, nonfat kefir smoothie with a banana and 1 tablespoon of Quik chocolate powder with some ice in the blender to make a delicious breakfast drink. I also keep some cups of strawberry and coffee kefir in my mini-fridge at work, for an afternoon snack. I like that it doesn’t have anything artificial vs. those light yogurts that are packed with artificial sweeteners.

Pici! We were just in Tuscany, and my son fell in love with this pasta, which is essentially thicker spaghetti. They use a slow-drying method, which somehow leaves the pasta more flavorful than that brittle stuff I typically buy in the supermarket. I wasn’t sure if I could find it here but I did in the Italian store at Chelsea Market, toward the back. You cook it longer — 22 minutes — and it comes out al dente and tasty. It’s great with any type of sauce. (Eataly also seems to carry this.)

Truffle Honey! I was first turned on to this delicacy by my friend Liz, who served it with some sort of cheese and told me it was even better with bleu cheese. She was right! Then, in Italy, we got some and had it with pecorino. Even tastier! It’s kind of hard to find. I ordered it on Amazon and can’t say that I am loyal to any one brand. You just need a little, so while a small jar may be $15, it will last through a lot of noshing.

Malin & Goetz Detox Face Mask! I like that you only have to put this mask on for 5 minutes. (Who has 20 – 30 minutes to sit with a bunch of gook on your face?) And I like that as soon as you put it on, it starts bubbling. Even if it’s not really working, it feels like it’s doing something! And then when you wash it off, lo and behold, your skin does feel super clean, without getting dried out. It’s got oxygen in it, which seems to make all the difference.

Vitamin C for your Eyes! I got this vitamin C eye serum in a gift bag, and it is the bomb. The brand isn’t available to the public so I can’t recommend it, but look for an eye gel or cream with vitamin c. I like the gel for night time — creams tend to make my eyes too puffy in the morning. It seems to make my eye area firmer and I don’t wake up with any extra fluid around the eyes.

Oh, I have so much more, but I will leave it at that for now…enjoy!

 

Chop Chop

September 9, 2013

Iced coffee -- one of my fav summer treats that I will take into fall!

Iced coffee — one of my fav summer treats that I will take into fall!

Well, summer is really over, my friends. My kids head back to school tomorrow and it is back to the jam-packed routine of life, and don’t forget to pack a lunch! Here are some things I will take away from this summer:

Making an effort for breakfast really can change the day: I am such a creature of routine, and I like to fit my workout in in the morning, pre-breakfast, which on the weekends can push brekkie back pretty late. But my daughter is a huge fan of breakfast on the beach, so a few times I ditched the routine, stopped at the bakery and hit the sand way early. And it was great — we beat the crowds (one day we had the beach to ourselves for almost an hour!), we had a chance to chat in a new venue, we gained more time to get things done in the afternoon…in the city my husband will sometimes take the kids for bagels before school, breaking out of that rut. And they seem to have more meaningful conversations. I am going to try to use this time wisely and break out of my routine now and again.

The food processor is your friend: I’m not sure why, but I avoided this kitchen gadget like the plague. Until I decided I couldn’t anymore. And it is fantastic. Have a bunch of tomatoes? Cut them up, throw them in with some cilantro, garlic, onion, lime juice and 2 jalapenos. Pulse a few times and you’ve got salsa for everyone on your margarita list. I also made this smoky eggplant dip from the NY TImes. I did not make the homemade pita chips, but more brownie points for you if you do. The multigrain pita chip from Trader Joe’s worked well. And if you are in the market for a food processor, check out Bloomingdale’s one day home sales which they seem to have fairly frequently. They typically have a nice-sized Cuisinart on sale for under $100.

Moisturizing does make a difference: I never thought I would regularly put oil on my face, but I still love Tata Harper’s Replenishing Nutrient Complex. And for body, especially after sun, Sun Bum’s Cool Down smells just about as summery as you can get. (My daughter walk around with it, asking people to sniff it. “Doesn’t this smell good??”) I will use it well into winter to keep my skin soft and to remind me of these sun-soaked days.

Get everything done so you can take time to relax: With everything going on, except for the few minutes when I typically read before I hit the hay, I rarely will just sit and chill. But this summer I actually read every single magazine I had in my possession (trust me, it was a lot) and read Gone Girl (pretty good — I can see why they are making a movie)  and Mark Bittman’s VB6 (I love Bittman and I think so much of what he says makes sense, but I just cannot see myself cooking every meal — breakfast, lunch and dinner — completely from scratch and so while I will take a few tips, I do not think I will be vegan before 6.) There were times when I was reading that I had this weird sensation that I should be getting things done, but I would push it aside and give myself permission to chill.

Trying something new always has rewards: This summer I made a key lime pie from scratch, tried out TRX, made steamers at home, created leather and metal bracelets — all for the very first time. And whether they stick (I now have a new exercise in my repertoire, every Wednesday) or not (it’s probably easier for my husband to buy himself a key lime pie), the journey teaches you things you may not have even thought about. And it’s just plain fun.

Bring on the fall!

Etc.

I am giving myself Origins’ Charcoal Mask right now to clear out any last summer impurities!

Congrats to Serena Williams — pretty amazing.

Hope you have a great week!

This Badgley Mischka gown from the Outnet is long and 100% silk...bingo!

This Badgley Mischka gown from the Outnet is long and 100% silk…bingo!

When the temps go over 90 and the humidity shoots up there it is hard to know what to wear at any time, let alone to a black tie wedding. Still, I was pretty shocked to see what people put on last weekend at the nuptials we attended, and I thought it was worth a post.

Just because it’s long doesn’t mean it’s fancy: I noticed a trend on the women in attendance: long, ankle or floor length dresses. On the surface, this seems like a nice direction for things to go — a gown can be beautiful. But these weren’t gowns, they were those maxi dresses that are perfect as a cover up for the beach or even a luau, but not a Saturday night black tie affair. Material matters. If it’s cotton and comes in some sort of stripey pattern, leave it on the hanger.

Black tie means black tie, boys: My husband wore his tuxedo and he was pissed at me because hardly anyone else was wearing one. I swore up and down that the invite said black tie, and even pulled the bride aside later in the evening so she could back up my story. Most of the men there opted for lighter suits, we assume because of the heat. But that’s not what was called for. For the record, the bride was not happy. “I was walking down the aisle and I’m like, ‘Really? This is what you wore to my wedding?'” Not cool. Take off your jacket if you’re hot.

Cork wedges are not for evening. Period.: Cork wedges are adorable, but nothing is faster at taking an outfit towards “picnic.” Ditto for flat casual sandals. I am not a heels fan but it really is the only thing that looks right for black tie. If you invest in one pair of mid-heel, black silk strappy shoes, they will take you everywhere.

Just about the only thing you have to lose by dressing appropriately is a large dry cleaning bill!

To The Office

To beat the heat on a commute, I like a dress. Any kind will do. I just do not like to wear pants when it’s really hot. If you’re in a more corporate environment, a sleeveless shift dress works, and carry a blazer that you can throw on once you reach your air-conditioned office. If you’re in a more casual setting, there are so many cute sundresses. Stash a cardigan (or two) in your bottom desk drawer if the air inside gets too icy. Just don’t forget to take it off if you go out for lunch!

Lighter Fare

I cannot eat anything heavy when the temperature soars. So I was pleasantly surprised when we went to the brunch the day after the wedding, and they had a deconstructed spinach salad. I am definitely serving this at the next lunch party I host. They had a large bowl of baby spinach, and then small bowls of everything one might want to put on top: bacon, red onion, chopped egg, sunflower seeds, blue cheese…really you can put out and on whatever makes you happy. Then they had a light buttermilk ranch and a balsamic vinaigrette that you could put on. It was easy and light and much appreciated. You can put some nice rolls on the side, a pitcher of iced tea or lemonade,  and what summer guest wouldn’t be psyched?

Etc.

I am in the middle of a 2 week vacation and enjoying every minute. Last week was a little more hectic with guests, a bbq for my daughter’s birthday, and the aforementioned wedding which involved a lot of traffic. But this week my son and I are hanging out together and it is really nice. I am always busy but somehow it just feels like a different pace.

Hope  you all have time off to enjoy friends and family this summer!

Chef’n

June 13, 2013

Blogger’s note: I wrote this post a few weeks ago but I forgot to bring the recipe home from my house so I was delayed…anyway here it is in all its time warped glory…more to come soon!)

Tasty -- and easy!

Tasty — and easy!

I was a cooking fiend this holiday weekend, which made me realize that to be a great chef, you need time, tasty ingredients, and a husband who will clean up. Otherwise, forget it.

I love making salsas in the summer, because they really dress up any old fish that you want to throw on the grill. And because the ingredients ration doesn’t have to be exact, you can improvise with what you have in the fridge. But you always need a jalapeno pepper, and depending on the harvest, they can be hotter than you bargained for, especially on your skin. It’s the seeds that carry the heat, so if you really want to be careful, wear gloves when you’re taking them apart or cutting the pepper. (I sometimes put a plastic bag over the hand that’s coming into contact with the pepper if there’s no glove handy.) The deceiving part is that if it does cause skin irritation, it usually doesn’t start for a little while, after you think you’re in the clear. If you start to get persistent burning, forget washing, water, soap or lotion. Believe me, will not work, and potentially makes it worse. Get a bowl, pour some milk into it and submerge your hand. Keep it there until you feel the burning sensation subside. It should only take a few minutes. Then you can rinse and go about things normally. If it comes back at all, try it again. I have used this twice and it definitely works!

Anyway, on to this weekend’s salsa recipe — I put it over tuna but could easily pair with salmon or another meaty, white fish.

Avocado Tomato Salsa

1 ripe avocado cut into small chunks

1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup minced red onion

1 jalapeno pepper or serrano chile, seeded and minced (the serrano pepper will give you more heat)

1 lime, juiced

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. I like to refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, but you don’t have to.

Serve over fish or chicken!

 

Salad Daze

Salads are a great and easy way to add vegetables to a meal. My kids have both started eating them in earnest, but only with balsamic vinaigrette. (I’ll take it!) I love to mix things up a little, so it’s not just mixed greens on a plate. Fresh radishes are a great way to do that. They add some zest and some crunch, and some color, which is always nice. Goat cheese also makes a salad a little more special. If you buy a small log, put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes and then flake it with a knife onto the lettuce. The freezing lets it flake easier and more evenly.

Etc.

I am starting TRX tomorrow. Very exciting. I needed a new exercise something to break up the monotony of the machines which I feel like I have become a slave to. (If it’s Monday, it must be the Precor Open Stride.) I will report back.

The other exciting news is that my husband and I gave each other bikes for our anniversary! We had a family ride on the boardwalk yesterday. Loved it.

Hope you’re adjusting to the routine after a few days off…

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!

imperial-palace-cherry-blossom_13295_600x450I am hopeful that spring has finally sprung, people. And that calls for some changes in the routine. Some suggestions:

Breakfast: Get out of your cereal rut! Berries are back, more local, sweeter and at better prices. Get yourself some Greek yogurt (the nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt from Trader Joe’s is tasty), top it with some raspberries and either wheat germ or granola and you have yourself a fresh and healthy way to start the day. Still hungry? If you have a favorite a bakery, buy some muffins, a few at a time, cut them in half and then freeze them. In the morning, pull out a half, throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds and voila! You have a delicious treat, with half the calories and at half the price than if you ate the whole dang thing at your desk.

Makeup: Lighten up! Banish the darker colors to the back of your drawer, or mix them with some good lip balm (Kiehl’s makes one of the best; Korres makes a nice natural one) and then put it on your lips with a lip brush or your fingers. That will soften your lips with a hint of color, and take you out of looking like Broomhilda.

Style: This sort of inbetween weather can pose a challenge when getting ready in the morning. I like a nice short-sleeved sweater with pants. That way you’re not sporting bare legs if the chilly morning doesn’t give way to a warmer afternoon, and the short sleeved sweater keeps it professional without seeming over dressed for the weather. (I work in a somewhat casual office and I reserve the sleeveless tank tops and gauzy dresses for the true dog days of summer — when it’s near 100 and no one can argue with the fact that you’ve got next to nothing on…) For guys, a cotton button down shirt in a spring color — turquoise gingham check? — keeps it awesome.

Food & Drink: More salads make sense — particularly for dinner. Arugula from the farmer’s market is the best. (Zesty!) And I figure if you’re saving a few calories, you have some left over to head out for some frozen yogurt for dessert…and pass the bottle of rose! It’s definitely my drink of choice when the weather gets warmer.

Plans: Get your butt outside! In most places, this is really the most glorious weather of the year, so do yourself a favor and plan some outdoor activities. Even if you plan to walk a few places instead of taking the car. Take a walk or a bike ride to Dunkin’ Donuts, where any size iced tea is only 99 cents! That’s a deal. We went to see the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and just that and the magnolia trees were worth the price of admission! (Go early to avoid the crowds.)

Etc.

I can’t decide if I’m liking Mad Men this season. But I am sticking with it, given that there’s only one more season after this!

I was send an advance copy of the new HBO Liberace movie starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, so I’ll let you know how it is…

Why are you still reading this? Get outside already!!

Tasty and Friendly

January 26, 2013

logoI don’t know that I would call myself a Francophile but I do love a lot from the French. So when a new cooking school opened downtown, I thought I would try it and I invited my friend Suzanne to come along. Cook & Go Culinary Studio’s premise is simple: you sign up for a three course meal and you show up at your appointed time to prepare all 3 courses, all under the watchful eye of a real chef. The catch is that while you prepare everything there, they wrap it all up with explicit instructions for how to cook it at home. We did an Indian meal and there were about 18 students in our class. They give you a glass of wine while you cook (but of course — it’s French!) and are happy to refill. You can ask as many questions as you want to the chef but otherwise he leads everyone through, one step at a time.

The space is bright and airy and most importantly, very clean and new. The people working there were very nice. We made a seafood tikki masala with prawns and mussels, spicy curry meatballs with a side of coconut infused spinach and for dessert a pineapple-lime and mango chutney cake. Classes are about 90 minutes. We took a 7:30pm class, which meant we were too hungry at 9 to go home and cook so we made a pitstop at nearby Chelsea Market. I did cook everything the next evening and I can report that it was all tasty. The cooking instructions were easy to follow (one snafu was that things were underdone by their given cooking time but it could have been my oven). The best part was that the food was out of the ordinary of what I would usually cook, which is what you want in a one time cooking class, I think. Most menus are $39 – $49 and you can bring home an extra portion for $15 more. Worth grabbing a friend and giving it a go! (443 West 16th Street)

Beauty By Boots

300I love when I find a reasonably priced beauty product that actually works well so I don’t feel like I am compromising anything to save a few bucks. (I’m talking about you, cheap lipsticks!) Those of you who read this blog know I am also always on the lookout for organic and natural products, as the more studies that come out, the more disheartened I am about the all the crap I probably have absorbed over the years through my skin. Boots Botanics Organic Face Rosewater Toner feels high end all around, from its faint scent, all natural ingredients, gentleness on the face yet seriously strong ability to get off every last trace of makeup. Keep it in the medicine cabinet as a makeup remover or just a general pick me up for your skin. (About $9 at Target or Drugstore.com)

Etc.

It snowed a bit last night and it’s just downright freezing, so we had to come up with an indoor activity today, so Dave & Buster’s it was. Now, we had about $60 in game cards already, and it still was expensive to go! That place is a freakin’ gold mine. They get you coming and going with not cheap mediocre food and then the games…and then the prizes are not exactly of premium quality!

Anyway, hope you’re staying warm!

Thoughts on the Holidays

December 23, 2012

6a0115711b8d26970b017d3eec0c44970c-800wiMy inbox is finally not stuffed with offers trying to entice me to order anything else to put under my (non-existent) Xmas tree…probably because unless it’s an e-card, it’s absolutely too late to get anything shipped here before the big day. Oh well! There’s always a brick and mortar store…

I thought as the year is winding down it would be nice to share some of my thoughts on what makes the holiday season nice and special — of course there’s the expanded time with family and friends, the extra days off from work and school, and the endless supply of sweet treats that seem to be lurking around every kitchen counter and office cubicle, but here are some more ideas for what remains of this year, or the year to come:

Start a Tradition: Every year, we meet up with another family one Saturday in December and we see the tree in Rockefeller Center and then we have lunch at Virgil’s, a barbecue restaurant in Times Square. We have been doing it at least for 5 years and it’s funny because it may seem so simple, but we all genuinely look forward to it. My friend and I contact each other in early November and we block out the Saturday early on, so it can’t be messed with. With everyone leading such busy lives, it’s nice to know that we’ll get to see each other and spend a good solid few hours together, catching up. Another friend and I take a day off together every year and go to the Short Hills Mall to bang out our holiday shopping. We get to spend the day together and be super productive, which, as my friend says, is the best kind of day! (Especially for 2 working moms!) The idea behind creating a tradition isn’t that it has to be some grandiose plan, just that you have constants that you can look forward to.

Bon Bons are a Big Hit: We went to a big holiday soiree last night and we were commenting that it’s funny because at this party, everyone really eats the food. There are some parties where it’s a bowl of chips and some salsa that never get touched, but this party features shrimp, dumplings, carmelized bacon, stuffed cherry peppers, sesame chicken skewers…and on and on, all home made by the hostess. And then the desserts come out! And while there are all kinds of cookies, cakes, brownies and candies, do you know what went in a red hot minute? Huge ice cream bon bons. They were not easy to eat with your hands, they were messy and inelegant, but no one seemed to care. My husband ate his chocolate covered caramel one and then came in to eat half of my peppermint one. They were cold, sweet and delicious — and apparently everyone else thought so, too, given how quickly they disappeared. So maybe for your next party forget about the fancy desserts and go for some bon bons. (By the way I woke up this morning and had on the Today show and Lester Holt was making bon bons, so clearly I am onto something!!)

Say Thank You: I was chatting with a colleague this weekend about how much of our own money we spend on holiday gifts for our employees, and how much time it takes to shop for each of them. And then he said to me, in disgust and disbelief, “And some of them don’t even say thank you!” And I had to laugh, because I had just been complaining to my husband that some of the employees I gave gifts to didn’t even say thanks. So people do notice, and it does not reflect well, trust me. Whether it’s in a work setting or in your personal life, even if you don’t write a note, say thanks. And I mean after you open it. Tell them something specific about the gift so people don’t feel like they wasted time, money and effort on you.

Remember Those Less Fortunate: This has been a tough year for an awful lot of people. Personally, we have had to lay out money for Hurricane Sandy damage that we (obviously) couldn’t plan for. But I am digging deeper and giving to the charities that we always give to annually, because the truth is there are always others less fortunate than you. And even if you can’t write a check, volunteer for an afternoon, or make a snowflake and send it to the new school that the Sandy Hook survivors will be attending. (Click here for where to send them.) Many small gestures add up.

Just Relax: With all the running around to shop for gifts, attending parties, mailing cards and doling out tips, you need a pause before the new year starts up again. Give yourself permission to take a nap. Read a book. See a movie. (I liked Skyfall and Argo and I want to see Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln.) Swap kids with a friend to give each other a few hours of peace and quiet without the expense of a babysitter. Walk to get coffee, slowly, and really enjoy the scenery, not to mention the coffee.

Because before you know it, 2013 will be kicking your ass.

Happy Holidays Everyone and Thanks So Much for Reading Family Favs!!!

Back to School Strategy

September 10, 2012

Hopefully you’ve already gotten your kids’ school supplies because I was at Target today to get what I needed for the second list from my son’s class, and those shelves were picked clean. Crazy.

And was your week as hectic as mine? I went back to work mid-week after a longer-than-usual vacation, I started teaching a college class that same night, I had no nanny that day to watch my kids (she had to take the day off), and my kids started school the next day, my daughter kindergarten…so it was kinda nutty. Which got me thinking that my tips I use for getting through the crazy times might help you out as well:

Lists are essential. Seriously, or else I always forget something. I used to do them all on paper, but now with the iphone I’ve got lists up the wazoo: for Target, for the supermarket, my to-do list, etc. And it feels oh so good to cross something off.

Take out clothes the night before. My daughter is incredibly particular about what she wears, and the mornings are far too jam packed to have an argument about it, so we go into her closet every night and decide what she’s going to wear the next day, down to her socks. Then we lay it out on the table, and she is ready to go the next morning. Frankly, on a day that I am really crunched in the morning and may even have to get to work early, I take out my clothes as well. You’d be amazed how much time you save when you’re not standing in front of your closet, lamenting about how you have nothing to wear. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

Go through their school folder at night. I want no surprises in the morning — there’s already too much to deal with. So I fill out any forms or get any money I have to send in together the night before, put everything into their folders and backpacks and then rest easy. And if there’s anything really major due that week — a project, supplies that need to get sent in, whatever, I do it over the weekend before. By Sunday night, I get it all together, even if its not due til, say, Wednesday. Something will inevitably come up during the week, but I try to control as much as I can so I don’t feel so pressured with time.

Establish 4 – 5 lunch menus. You want variety, but you also don’t want too much choice. If you’ve got 4 – 5 things in your repertoire, that should keep them interested and eating. Peanut butter and banana or avocado and cheese are healthy sandwiches that don’t feel run of the mill. Trader Joe’s dumplings are always a hit. Cottage cheese and fruit can be good. And never underestimate the power of leftovers — pasta is a particular favorite in our house. Rotate fruits, add in some carrot sticks and then a surprise snack to keep ’em guessing and you’ll be good to go. I’m a big fan of reusable containers instead of the bottomless pit of Ziploc bags that packed lunch can become. And once in a while, it’s ok to take the day off and let them get school lunch. Many schools are leading the way in ensuring there are healthy offerings, so you don’t have to feel too guilty about it.

Sometimes, if it can be put off, put it off. Know your limits — and if you’re feeling particularly tired, ill or whatever, limit your to do list to what is absolutely essential in that moment. If you can do it tomorrow, do it then. The school sent home a mountain of paperwork on Thursday. I had a massive headache. My normal instinct would be to do it all that night and get it back asap. But I just couldn’t; I had to go to sleep. So I did it over the weekend and it will go back on Monday. And it’s fine.

Make an easy to read schedule and put it on the wall. Every day after school is another activity in another place, for each of my children. I created an easily readable chart that hangs on the wall in the kitchen and tells where everyone is, at what time, and what time they need to get picked up. That way whomever is on duty knows where to be and when.

It’s never easy, and there are always last minute surprises, but hopefully these small things can make things a bit easier for all of us!

And did I mention…

I’m not sure how the summer went by without me mentioning one of my best discoveries in the supermarket frozen food aisle: Caramel Pretzel Klondike Bars. Seriously delish, with the mix of salty/sweet, and some crunch to boot. We had several different friends here over the summer and each time I pulled them out to offer them for dessert, their eyes lit up and they savored every bite. And every one of them told me not to offer them to the kids so there would be more left for the next day! Try ’em before the weather gets too chilly for ice cream.

Etc.

Well finally the miserable humidity broke here in the east (unfortunately it took some nasty storms in some places to do it). Enjoy the beautiful fall weather while you can. And wear all your cute sandals before it’s too late to show the world your toes!

Elect More Women

July 27, 2012

I went to a cocktail party that Mayor Bloomberg’s girlfriend, Diana Taylor, hosted last night at their home on the Upper East Side. (More on that later…) The cocktail party was for the Women’s Campaign Fund, an organization that encourages and helps female candidates to run for office at all levels of the political spectrum, on both sides of the aisle, as long as they are for reproductive choices and options (i.e. pro-choice). Right now in the U.S., Congress is made up of 17% women. 17%! For a constituency that makes up 51% of the population! So to say the work of the WCF is needed is an understatement. And it isn’t just women who need women in office. On issues many people care about, male or female, women representatives have a better voting record — things like the environment and wage parity. And they call people out for sexism instead of letting it slide.
Their She Should Run program lets anyone nominate someone to run for office, whether it’s a school board position or a Senate race. WCF supports women early on in their races, and tries to remove barriers to them being elected.

As for Mayor Bloomberg’s house, it’s not my taste, and very decorated, if that makes sense. Lots of 19th century artwork and chairs and sofas I would never dream of sitting on. Vases that must be expensive because they are there, perched elegantly on marble tables. Bowls of fresh flowers everywhere, and a billiards room with what looked like an antique foosball table. I described it to my husband as feeling like you’re walking into the rooms at the Metropolitan Museum where you think, “Who lives like this anymore?” Well, Mayor Bloomberg, apparently. It was interesting to see, and it was incredibly nice of them to open up their home to the organization.

As for Women’s Campaign Fund, check out their website wcfonline.org and see for yourself why you need to support a female candidate…or nominate yourself to run!

Greek Yogurt Goes Frozen

I’ve already jumped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon, so when I saw Ben and Jerry’s has a new line of frozen Greek yogurts, I had to check them out. They are a bit tangier than their regular frozen yogurts — the Peanut Butter Banana one was quite tasty. Thumbs up for this new addition to the Ben and Jerry’s family!

Olympic Fever

In honor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, here’s the US Swim Team doing “Call Me Maybe.” Ryan Lochte even shows up to blow a kiss. But where’s Michael Phelps? Oh yeah, probably practicing…swimming.


Etc.

This wacky weather is starting to freak me out. I never remember so many harsh storms where so many people lost power. The lightening in NYC last night was crazy.

Hope you’re all doing well…enjoy the weekend!